David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

July, 2009 

Thursday July 2, 2009

As some of you know we put in enough solar panels to supply most of the power to our office and residence. We have two other buildings that together use as much energy. Those buildings are the winery and our guest house/storage building on the left side as you drive in to our property. One of our customers is a solar supplier and he has convinced us to put panels on top of the guest house and that will supply most of the power for the winery and storage. The only other cost that will not be covered is for our irrigation pump which is down by the creek. In the future I may look into installing a solar system for our water supply needs. 

Sunday July 5, 2009

As usual we are having trouble with our bottling line AND again it is the labeler. We have a tech coming tomorrow from the company we purchased the line from. Since we always have trouble, especially on the first day, I scheduled him months ago to come for 3 hours. Since the company had the day off Friday we started with out him. We tried to bottle only 147 cases of our 2008 Cabernet but the line broke down. At first it was the filler and then we could not get the labeler to work at all. Since we already had the cab in a tank we decided to bottle without labels and add the labels to the bottles tomorrow. I hope the tech can figure out what is wrong. Since we are only bottling a total of 2700 cases, if things go well we should be done by Friday. Besides finishing the cab, tomorrow we hope to do the 196 cases of our 2008 Aca Modot. On Tuesday we will have a big day and hope we can do 270 cases of 2008 Estate Cuvee, 220 Petite Sirah and 196 Terre Melange. 

I walked out in the vineyard this morning and looked to see if I could see some berries turning red. Right away in our first block over by the pond I saw many bunches with red berries in our pinot. We will be harvesting enough pinot in 6 weeks or so to make two barrels. As I walked further I saw a few red berries of zin and petite sirah. In one week I should see much more. The weather forecast is for cool temperatures in the next few days and warming up again by next weekend. If we have normal weather we should be harvesting Zinfandel in the first week of September which is right on time. It will be fun.

Tuesday July 7, 2009

We are looking for a temporary worker while Steve is away. Steve has been having trouble with his hip for over a year and thus he has decided to have it replaced. Pat and I will pay for the operation. Since he has been having a great deal of trouble moving around and lifting, Steve has only been working on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We hope to hire someone for those two days while Steve is away recovering. We really don't know how long that will be but it could be well into the Harvest. The person we are looking for would be in charge of greeting customers, pouring wine and making wine sales for Wednesday and Thursday. Since Steve helped a great deal around here we probably will have to hire a second person to help with the more strenuous work involved during harvest including forklift driving dragging hoses and punching down our fermenters. If any of you are interested in working for us please let us know.

The bottling yesterday was another adventure!! At 8:35Am a tech showed up but was confused when we said we wanted him to show us what was wrong with our labeler. He thought he was here to show Matt how to operate the bottling line. After an hour he had figured out how to get the labeler working but he had to make several calls to his office. I was very happy when the two techs I was hoping to see showed up about 9:45Am. By 11:00Am we had finished labeling our 2008 Cabernet. The main tech decided to shut down the line and proceeded to tweak the labeler to run more efficiently. He then worked on our screwcap sealer and also our filler. By the time he left every thing was working perfectly. By one Pm or so we started bottling our 2008 Aca Modot. By 3:00Pm we were finished for the day. Today will be the big test because we will be bottling over 600 cases. I will report on what happens tomorrow. 

Wednesday July 8, 2009

Yesterday went relatively well. We ended up finishing our 2008 Petite Sirah, 2008 Carignan and 2008 Terre Melange. We had some trouble with the labeler again so we did not finish until after 4:00Pm. Since we started at 7:00Am it ended up being a long day. Matt had the idea to tweak the speed of the labeler (Long Story) and with Steve's help we were only down a half an hour. Today at 3:00Pm we just finished bottling our 2008 Estate Cuvee and our 2008 My Zin and things went much smoother.

As many of you know I am a big fan of Petite Sirah and I was very impressed with the 2008 Petite last night. I opened 8 bottles including the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Petite and Carignan. The other two bottles were the 2007 and 2008 Terre Melange. I have now tasted 5 of our 2008 wines and I preferred the Petite Sirah first followed by the 2008 Cabernet. Of our older wines tasted I am impressed with our 2007 Petite Sirah and the 2006 Dry Creek Cab. Of course all the wines tasted this week have been of great quality. Tonight I will open 2006, 2007 and 2008 Estate Cuvee and My Zin. Don't worry I will pace myself because tomorrow we have to bottle our 2008 Block 4 and 2008 Escuro.

Saturday July 11, 2009

We finished bottling yesterday. We actually now have three 2008 wines still to bottle. The 2008 The Ultimate Cuvee will be bottled in January and the 2008 Zp2c will be bottled next month. We now have a new wine to be bottled in January, a Zinfandel. Here is the story:

I always try to estimate bottling less cases so I don't over sell our "Futures". I order enough empty bottles for about 20 cases more than I need. This year we started with 15 cases left over from the last bottling and I ordered my usual extra glass. But I messed up and missed counting one barrel of our 2008 Terre Melange. That amounted to 25 cases not calculated for. On average by yesterday I realized we were bottling a few cases more per wine so I estimated I would be about 5 cases short on bottles. I did not want to be short on our 2008 Barbera because we only were planning on bottling 87 cases so we started with the Barbera yesterday and planned on doing our last wine, the 2008 Zinfandel, and when we ran out of bottles we would use the rest of the Zinfandel for our Zp2c next month. In the morning Matt suggested a new strategy. How about saving a barrel of Zinfandel, in a new barrel that had been used for 9 months, and bottling it in January. That would give us more oak and smooth out the acid, so that was what we did. Now since it is 25 cases, I will probably save it for our Wine Club and send it out in a year or so.

Last night I finished tasting all our 2008 wines that were bottled last week. I also tasted most of our 2006 and 2007 wines that have been in the bottle for two and one year. Remember my impressions will vary greatly with your tasting preferences, but here goes. I prefer the 2006 Aca Modot to the 2007 and 2008 manly because of the complexity and darker character. I also prefer slightly the 2006 Dry Creek Cab to the 2007 and 2008 cabs. I could definitely change my mind in a month or so on both. It was a different story with one of my favorite wines, the Petite Sirah. The 2008 and 2007 Petite Sirah have a little more fruit than the 2006. Again that is my preference because the 2006 is definitely more smooth and more ready to drink. I preferred the 2007 Carignan and the 2006 Terre Melange to the other two vintages.

On Wednesday I tried the Estate Cuvee and My Zin. I preferred the 2008 Estate Cuvee more than the 2006 and 2007 because I thought it was more intense. As much as I like the 2006 My Zin now I think both the 2007 and 2008 will develop into better wines. They are both more complex already.

Then on Thursday I tasted my favorite two wines of the vintage. the 2008 Block 4 and 2008 Escuro. The 2006 Block 4 has always been spicy and complex but 2007 and 2008 are both more complex with stronger spice. Already the 2008 has the makings of being the most popular wine we have ever made. We have only 25 cases left so act fast. By far the 2008 Escuro is the most intense wine we have ever made. It is so young now but I still appreciate it for what it is. It has complexity, tannin and structure to stand up to anything. Some of you may think it is too intense right now. I must admit the 2006 and 2007 Escuro are more drinkable and complex right now. 

Yesterday I tasted the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Zinfandel. I preferred the 2007 because it is so spicy. The 2006 has some acid and is coming around while the 2008 has great potential, but with a little more acid than the 2007, it needs some time. Finally I opened the 2008 Barbera and I was very impressed with it's intensity. It would stand up to any food because it has more acid than any of our wines. 

We already have customers coming to pick up their 2008 wines so come along......and don't forget August 22 and 23rd when we will have all our 2008s open.

Tuesday July 21, 2009

We are going to make a sparkling wine. We may even sell a little this year if it is of good quality. If we want, we could be the first vineyard in Sonoma County to harvest grapes. Sparkling wine grapes are grown in the cool areas of Sonoma County. Since we are the only winery I know who grows Pinot in this hot area of Dry Creek Valley, we can harvest early at very high acid and sugar. I probably won't report it to the newspaper this year but I surely will next because I want the notoriety. We actually brought in one small bunch of Pinot yesterday and got a reading of 20%. Pinot for sparkling wine is typically picked at between 18 and 19 brix. We could get that reading next week and harvest in July. A still wine (Dry, no sugar left) is made first at low alcohol and later some sugar and yeast is added to a bottle and a fermentation starts in the bottle. When all the sugar and yeast is used up the sediment is frozen and removed, long story. Today Matt is going to start an experiment with some of our pinot trial we bottled last year at 14+ alcohol. He is going to dilute two batches to lower the alcohol, add sugar and yeast to a champagne bottle, crown cap it and see what happens. We will harvest our pinot grapes on August 10th or 11th because we want more flavor. We expect to have well over 20% sugar on average by then. We will dilute down enough to ferment to a low alcohol. We are thinking our style eventually will be a light pink sparkling wine at about 13.5 alcohol that will be sealed with a crown cap. We have a lot of research to do before we can be successful. I need a new challenge!! 

Tuesday July 27, 2009

Those of you who read this diary regularly will be surprised that we offered an exclusive dinner on August 22nd in the evening to our new Dave's Wine Club members and only a few have accepted. As one of the benefits of the Wine Club we decided to have an evening sit down dinner but we realized that we only had so much room for cars in our parking lot so we settled on 60 people total plus our workers and Pat and I. We also found out to cater for about these 70 people it would cost us about $40 a person. Reluctantly instead of offering the party for free we decided to charge $25 a person. For $25 a customer would get a dinner that included a spit roasted pig and many tastes of some of our library wines. We sent out an e-mail to over 300 Wine Club members (2 per member about 620) and offered the dinner on a first come first served basis. We did not know what to expect although the e-mail went out to over 150 potential people in our San Francisco Bay Area. As of today we have only confirmed 28 people after 5 days. We may have to cancel if we don't hear back from more since the minimum fee for such an event from the caterers is about $2500. We do have many customers who purchase 4 cases of wine from us and who are not members of our Wine Cub so we may offer the dinner to them also.


I guess I have to explain more! We are having a sit down dinner in the evening with better food? Some of you might think you are correct that we are offering a similar event for free during the day....but that would be somewhat wrong. First of all I have realized, not everyone reads their e-mails every second like I do when I am on my computer....long story. 

Yes, I do check my stock charts also. As you can remember by reading my past diaries I invested heavily on the way down and I am doing well now. I am still down a little, because I lost $8,000 when Washington Mutual went Bankrupt. I am having fun. I love spending money!! 

Getting back to the events: We will have fun during the day on August 22nd and 23rd, I am planing to play the blu-ray version of Woodstock, just released!! The evening event will focus on any one wine members want, everyone here has a choice and can not deny. Since there will be at least 70 people here, that means we will have more than 80 bottles open.......I have to suggest a few. 

I understand we are charging for the first time for an event, I will promise: Woodstock will be on all day and all through the evening event inside the winery (remember we will have tables outside into the evening).  It will be fun!! 

Thursday July 30, 2009

yesterday we did send out the Evening Dinner invitation to those of you who purchased 4 cases of our 2008 wines and I have had a few more sign ups. We still have more openings so please consider this special event.

I was very surprised when I heard Barack Obama mention the word stupefied. Pat has warned me that I use stupid around here too much. To me it just meant someone had acted silly and could do better next time. Pat was right; I looked up the definition. The only definition I can see that was close to what I thought was "foolish". All the other definitions are very strong and I will try not to use the word again.

Our new piece of equipment arrived Monday and Matt has been trained successfully. Matt will teach me how to use it for Harvest. The two main uses for us will be the ability to obtain accurate residual sugars and malic acid on wine. After we find out that most of the sugar has been converted to alcohol and most of the malic has disappeared we will be able to add some SO2 at the right time to stabilize the young wine. Also we will be able to obtain nitrogen totals on grape samples before fermentation which will tell us how much nitrogen to add to the new juice to help in a steady fermentation. 


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