David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

October, 2009 

Friday October 2, 2009

We have been very busy this week. We have pressed Zinfandel and Block 4 into many barrels. Many of the barrels are dry and could be tasted this weekend. Here is what we harvested this week:
September 28, 1.62 tons of Lagrein. September 29, one ton of Tannat. September 30, 1.2 tons of Barbera and a half ton of Sangiovese. October 1, 2.5 tons of Petite Sirah.

Today we are picking the rest of our front section for our Block 4 field blend and pressing Block 4 wine into 16 barrels. We are now about half done with our Harvest. Tomorrow, Saturday, Catarino and Salvador will start picking our Cabernet and finish on Monday. These vines were planted in 2003 and consist of three clones of cabernet that were selected for their low yield and great intensity. This year we will have enough of each clone to keep a few barrels separate to taste until January. Of course we have another clone of Cabernet in our sandy loam which was planted in 1983. In those days the nurseries were pushing high yielding clones. That higher yielding wine usually goes exclusively into our Estate Cuvee which has been blended with our Zinfandel and has been a very popular wine over the years. I may use the grapes from that cab in our Aca Modot this year and use some of the wine from our new clones in the Estate Cuvee.

By the way, Lagrein is a German name not Italian. This is what I found out:
Wines made from the lagrein (la-grine) grape have a dual personality, because of the region they're almost exclusively from. That region is Alto Adige, which borders Austria in northeastern Italy. Alto Adige was a part of Austria-Germany for centuries until 1919, when it was reassigned to Italy after the war; for this reason, it is still referred to as the Sudtirol, and its language and culture is still largely German. Lagrein’s dual personality arises from this Germanic leaning in an Italian region: Cities are known by alternative German and Italian names (Bozen in German is Bolzano in Italian), German is spoken in most areas, and regional foodstuffs include gulasch made from beef, veal, or pork; dumplings called canederli, often flavored with meat; wiener schnitzel; sauerkraut; and wonderful cow’s milk cheeses. It is impossible to think of lagrein as a typically Italian wine—and yet it could be, if it weren’t so Germanic.

Saturday October 3, 2009

It is 7am and I am waiting for a repair man again. This time it is for my grape press. The press can squeeze almost every gallon of wine from the skins and seeds in one hour. We run it another 2 hours and squeeze another 2 gallons per ton out of the fermented must. Yesterday I was alerted that the press was leaking some wine mixed with oil. Fortunately the leak was on the outside of the press and did not filter into the wine we were pumping into barrels. We suspect that the bearing is shot so I called Europress and they gladly are sending out a German service guy by 8am this morning. The quote for the repair is well over $3,000. It's only money!!

Catarino and Salvador arrived at 7am again to start picking our Cabernet. They will bring up about two bins of the first clone by 10am. Matt and I will stem that ton into a stainless fermenter and keep at least two barrels separate.

Catarino and Matt are dragging. I have to admit I am slowing down also even though I do very little physical work. The responsibility to make everything work well is a challenge sometimes. I don't know if I mentioned that we have a new Steve working here during Harvest. I call him Canada since he is a Canadian citizen. Canada is young and strong and is not slowing down even though he is doing most of the hard work. Matt and I decided to give Canada two days off to be with his family but Matt and I are not so fortunate. After I suffer though another Raider loss Sunday morning I will probably give Matt the afternoon off. He needs a little rest. I will help Matt stem the Cab today but we are not picking tomorrow even though we have about 15 tons ready to pick. We all need a short break. 

Here it is at 8:20am and I don't see the repair guy. I hope he did not get lost.

11:00Am: Good news for me, our friendly Europress repair expert was here less than 30 minutes. The problem was not as severe as we thought. I am sure I will still get a bill of several hundred dollars. He said it looked like normal wear and tear, but when we told him we don't grease the two fittings near the bearing but once a season, he was amazed at how little wear there was. We should be greasing every time we use the press. After he left I thought about it and realized we probably don't use this press as much as other wineries do. The press is large and usually is used at larger wineries. I should get many more years before the bearings need to be replaced.

Earlier today I mentioned we have three clones of Cab. Today Catarino and Salvador are picking our clone 6. The berries are tiny and I am sure they will go into our 2009 Cabernet. Here is a reference to a great blog from Michel-Schlumberger Estate that tells far more than I knew about clone 6. http://benchlandblog.com/2008/10/clone-6-cabmagic/

On Monday I will try to find a reference to our other two clones. After visiting Catarino out in the vineyard it appears we will have more Cabernet than I thought. I now will surely use some of it in our Estate Cuvee.

Tuesday October 6, 2009

Yesterday we finished picking our Clone 6 cabernet and started picking our Clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon. I found far less info on clone 337 but did see that Beaulieu Vineyard was selling a bottle of Clone 6 or Clone 337 for $140 a bottle. You could purchase our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 on Futures right now for $19 a bottle before discount. Do you really think their wine is better than ours and at that price? I'll order one and let you know. I also saw Beaulieu Vineyard is selling the Private Reserve Cabernet for $120 a bottle. I remember paying $5 a bottle for the 1970 and maybe $7 for the 1974. Of course I remember paying $4,950.49 out the door for my 1964 Corvette and receiving $500 a ton from Gallo for my Dry Creek Zinfandel grapes and right now those grapes are selling for $2500. Times have changed. AND now they are talking about replacing the dollar as the World currency for the price of Oil.

Today we finished picking the rest of our Cabernet in the 5th block with 2 tons of Clone 341. In all we got in 6.4 tons of this fruit which was planted in 2003 while last year we received 2.6 tons. The quality looks even better than last year. I could find out very little about Clone 341 but the fruit looks as good as Clone 6. We have kept all three clones separate so it will be fun to taste the barrels before we blend in January. I will use the most intense barrels in our 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of these grapes will also go into our Estate Cuvee, My Zin and Aca Modot. Tomorrow we will pick our Peloursin which goes into our Rhone blend Terre Melange and Thursday we will start on out Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot which will go into our Aca Modot. Next week we will finish our Petite Sirah.

We now have 420 Dave's Wine Club members. Our next shipment will go out next Monday which means we are packing up right in the middle of all this action. We have decided to open up the Club to those of you who live in states that Fed Ex will not ship to. It will cost us more to ship there but we will ship out once a year only in November. The cost will be $250 for one case including the shipping. You will soon receive an e-mail, but you are welcome to call today. We already signed up our first member. Right now our Club consists of a three pack 4 times a year. Those of you who would prefer one shipment of one case a year will have the right to change.

8:12 Pm I know that is an exact time. I can usually guess what time it is even in the middle of the night. I wanted to document this because I have to be up stairs to see two episodes of Desperate Housewives in 20 minutes. Pat and I rarely agree on a series of this type but we do like the comedy and moral themes they imply. 

I am down here to document that Catarino stated that he has 13 more days of picking to do. I could not be more satisfied that he figured it out!! He is so great!!! By looking around the vineyard he knows! I did the same thing this morning, but I had all the figures on my computer. I know we are up by 20% in fruit this year and sure it took me a little time to figure out we have about 13 more days to go because we have about 26 tons to go, 2 tons a day. Catarino knows by just looking around!! I told him to go home today and we could do a sugar sample tomorrow. He said no way....I want to die here. That is how tired we all are.

Wednesday October 7, 2009

I don't want anyone to think Catarino or Salvador are going to die in the field. I can assure you they are doing fine. It is just Harvest and we are all working hard.

Today we harvested 1.8 tons of our Peloursin which will go into our 2009 Terre Melange. The sugar was perfect and I am happy to report these were the first grapes of the season that came in light. I was expecting 2 tons. We don't need to make more wine. 

Thursday October 8, 2009

It is getting frantic around here. We now hear that we are certain to get some rain next week. We are just not sure how much. The weather man is also signaling the end of Summer OR we probably won't get anymore high 90s. If we get more than half an inch next Tuesday and Wednesday when forecasted, the Zinfandel out there will be harmed because the skins on Zinfandel are thin and will crack from the rain with the potential of rot developing. Catarino and I guess we have about 10 more tons to harvest but none of the varietals are Zinfandel and all are thick skinned except our Petite Sirah. In the next few days through Monday including Sunday we will harvest all the rest of the Petite Sirah first, then our Merlot and part of our Cab Franc. If we have time we will harvest our Souzao, Touriga and Alvarelhao. Right now we are picking our Petit Verdot.

BUT The Wine Guerrilla zinfandel from several vineyards is still out there so we have to see if we can get a great deal of it in by Tuesday. The problem we have is that we do not have enough containers to ferment all this fruit, possibly as much as 30 tons. We are pressing everyday but right now we only have enough for 10 tons. If needed we will have to ferment in our half ton bins which hold about 1300 pounds. We will have to stack them on top of each in order to fit them all in the winery. Keep an I on the winery to see all the action. I will go out now to turn the camera into the winery a little more in order for you to see as much as possible.

4:00Pm: The puzzle is nearly solved. By Monday afternoon we will have all of our grapes in that I mentioned earlier today. Tomorrow we start on our Petite Sirah. The Zin for Bruce the Wine Guerrilla will be picked tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday and possibly Monday. By Sunday we will have 21 of his tons in here to ferment. In all including our fruit we will harvest over 30 tons by Monday before the rain. We just finished stemming 2.5 tons of Petit Verdot from our first block. After finishing our Petite Sirah on Sunday we will start harvesting on Monday the rest of the Petit Verdot from our 5th block That will leave us with Aglianico, Carignan and the Cabernet from our sandy loam to pick in a week or so, a total of about 8 tons. 

5:00Pm: Now I just got a call on one of Bruce's other vineyards and they want to bring the Zinfandel in on Saturday. That could be another 3 tons. This will be interesting. We are expecting to harvest about 13 tons tomorrow. I will report more then. 

I just read the latest weather forecast. There is good confidence that we could see well over three inches of rain and maybe as much as 6 inches starting Monday night. I need a tequila or maybe two!!

8:12 PM. Here we are again. Here is what I said a few days ago: I know that is an exact time. I can usually guess what time it is even in the middle of the night. I wanted to document this because I have to be up stairs to see two episodes of Desperate Housewives in 20 minutes. Pat and I rarely agree on a series of this type but we do like the comedy and moral themes they imply. 

OK I do agree, but really it is Fluff. Most of Desperate House Wives is a comedy but they do get into real things. Take it as it is at MOST important. IT is an escape for me and others. I know everyone here at this winery will have an adventure in the next few days that will never be duplicated again in any life time. That's what is unique in any day. We all can never duplicate this day again.

Friday October 9, 2009

8:30pm I know I will be in great trouble if I don't get up soon to see Bill Maher. We don't agree on half of what he says but it is always interesting. More later.....

9:30pm I wanted to see more on Obama's peace prize so we have delayed Maher. I have a few moments so I wanted to document what happened today. It was our busiest day by far. Catarino and Salvador picked over three tons of Petite Sirah. Catarino was so proud and he said we can be sure he will have another 4 tons tomorrow. We are gearing up for the potential rain. It would be very unusual to see over two inches of rain this early in October, but I have seen it before about 5 times since I came here in 1979. 

What a day!! We stemmed 12 tons of grapes today. For Bruce we received 9 tons of Zinfandel at very disappointing sugar, maybe 23 brix. It was a grower who said they had the sugar, at least 24. We were expecting another 10 tons Sunday but we have decided to wait out the storm. 

Tomorrow we are expecting over 6 tons for Bruce from two different vineyards and we are sure that these vineyards will be of great quality since we made wine from these two vineyards last year.

Matt and I both left the winery today at 7pm chanting!! We were ready for that last 10 tons of Zin for Bruce on Sunday. We do not get to experience the real capacity of this winery. I had counted all bins for fermenters and decided we would have two to spare. Next year will be another challenge....... 

Sunday October 11, 2009

As I write this at 7am the weather forecast has gotten clearer. My guess is that we could get 3 to 5 inches here. The forecast for all of Northern California is that we will get 1.5 inches near the coast and as much as 8 inches in the mountains. We usually receive an amount of rain that is above average and I have seen times when the system stalls here and we receive much more than predicted. Now they are saying the showers could start Monday afternoon. Catarino and Salvador are already out picking and are prepared to pick tomorrow until the rain comes. The prediction is that the rain will subside by Tuesday evening and we could still see showers Wednesday.

Yesterday we received 3.7 tons of our Petite Sirah. That makes the total Petite at 10 tons and Catarino says there is still more than 2 tons out there. I was expecting 8.5 tons so I have all the Petite Sirah I need. For now I want to concentrate on our other varietals that are ready to pick.

First we will bring in the varietals for our Bordeaux blend called Aca Modot. That will consist of less than a ton total of our older Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. We already have our new section of Petit Verdot fermenting and we have enough Cabernet Sauvignon harvested to make enough of that wine. 

After those varietals are picked I will have them harvest our Souzao, Touriga and Alvarelhao for our Escuro blend. With the way totals have gone this year we should see well over two tons total. We may not finish with all of that today.

Tomorrow we will pick the Grenache for our Terre Melange which should be less than a ton and if we have time finish the Petite Sirah.

What will that leave us still out in the vineyard? At over 23 brix, we should have 5 tons of Carignan and 4 tons of Cabernet from our sandy loam. Also we will have over a ton of Aglianico at about 23 brix. We have a new section of Cabernet Franc that has surprised me. It is our first crop and must be a different clone than what I planted in 1981. It was the last to color up this year and at last check a few days ago was at 21 brix. Then the last one to come in the last few years is over on ton of Mourvedre to go into our Terre Melange. And then we will still have over a ton of Second Crop for the Wine Guerrilla. All these last grapes can survive a great deal of rain if the weather gets warm again which is predicted by Thursday.

It will be well over a week before we start picking again so I can safely report that we will not finish harvesting until November.

Catarino's back and wrist are hurting and I hear Canada's back is hurting. Matt has a bunch of tape on his wrist and I am hurting in many places including hives probably from stress. It is only Salvador who has not mentioned an injury. Hopefully we will all recover with this week off. 

Monday October 12, 2009

Here we are again starting at 7am. It is real dark outside but Catarino and Salvador are already out picking. It is usually light by now but it appears the skies are very dark from the thick rain clouds coming in. We all have a lot to do today. Pat and Cindi have to finish labeling our 410 four pack Club shipment. The Fed Ex driver will be here at noon time. Catarino and Salvador are picking Grenache and hope to finish all the Petite Sirah before the heavy rains start. It is very moist outside and at this time I am not sure if it is showers or fog. Matt and Steve (Canada) must press more wine and pump into barrels so we can have room for the grapes we are picking now. Take a look at the camera in the winery and see how full we are. Also look at the outside camera and see that we have fermenting wine out side also.

Yesterday Catarino had a friend come by for a few hours and help pick so he finished the Souzao, Touriga and Alvarelhao along with the Cab Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. In all 3.9 tons were picked. We are ready for today, what ever it will bring.

9:50Pm: It has been an incredible day and I will say more tomorrow, first of all I have to say I sold all of Susie's qqqq. She left it up to me so for her I thought it was a great decision. She sold at the high of the day. I still choose to hold on to my 1400 shares. I believe in the long haul, even though I know there will be a big sell off. I choose to wait it out in case this qqqq will go up much higher until the sell off. More tomorrow.

We harvested many more grapes than I expected today. Does anyone out there want some incredible bulk. I'll explain tomorrow....It is hitting me now...........................the Harvest is near over.........................

Tuesday October 13, 2009

Yesterday Catarino and Salvador worked until 4 pm when it started sprinkling. We picked another 2.76 tons of Petite Sirah and 1.5 tons of Grenache. I have way too much juice now so I hope all of you like the wine we produce this year because we need to sell a lot of Futures.

As I write Matt is preparing to press some Petite Sirah that we picked yesterday. It will be part of our new Rose for 2009. He is also using some Grenache. He is leaving the grapes in the press to pick up some color. We are looking for even more character than last year.

It has rained more than 3 inches so far by noon and we could get another inch today with showers tomorrow. We will do some sugar tests Thursday or Friday. 

Matt informs me we have 47 fermenters going today. He is pressing some tomorrow but right now we have some outside in the rain so he has room to punch down inside. Don't worry, we have them covered with tarps. Take a look at our cameras.

Ok, now about qqqq. I have explained before the qqq or sometimes called qqqq (It's Symbol) represents the top 100 nasdaq companies. You could go here if you are interested  http://finance.yahoo.com/?u  The top ones are Apple (aapl), Amazon (amzn) and Google (goog). It even includes Microsoft and Starbucks down the list, but obviously includes many of the companies we have heard of including Mac Donalds. If you believe in the United States over the next 5 years I believe you can make a lot of money by staying with the qqq. I believe in the long run and that has gotten me in trouble at times so I will not sell anything unless the qqq goes up more from here. Everyone has been predicting a sell off for three months and they have been wrong. Eventually we will have a sell off, but when?!!! Amazon since March has gone from 34 to 95. Apple has gone from 78 to 190 and Google has gone from 247 to 529. Price has no relation to the value. You have to see what these companies are valued at. The bottom line is Google is below what it was last year, still...., it was over 700. Amazon is close with a high of 110 and Apple is near it's all time high of 202. I will give you one of the other big companies of the past, Ford. Ford was at 39 back in 1999. It was at $1.01 back in November. I purchased 1000 shares at $2 and saw it go down to $1.01. Today it is $7.60. The bottom line is that the Market reflects growth all over the world, every day. The world and market loves Obama. The pundits and republicans along with some democrats still want to see. The most important thing is the Market has predicted on my guess ALL economic expansions or contractions at least 6 months in advance, the punch line..............at least 10 of the last 7. The Market is wrong sometimes and over reacts. It sure was not wrong in the last two enormous events in our economy. Amazon, Apple along with Google all topped off in October 2007. That was way before the problem with our economy. Now are we still predicting a rebound to our all time highs or is the market due for a sell off, your call, but I believe in the United States and Barrack Obama. 

Thursday October 15, 2009

It still is sprinkling here so we have not had a chance to do a sugar test. I did walk out to look at our Cab Franc and Carignan in our first block and I was happy to see the grapes tasted great and looked sound. We have a few Zinfandel vines in our block along with the Carignan. I tasted a few Zin berries and found them to taste watery and thin. That is not surprising since zinfandel skins are very thin and could crack easily in such a big rain total of over 5 inches here. Tomorrow should bring us some clear skies so we should be able to test sugars.

3pm: For the last two nights I have been tasting several Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Back on October 6 I mentioned that I had ordered three bottles of Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet, a 2004 Clone 6, a 2004 Clone 337 and a BV Private Reserve. I ended up receiving a 30% discount but still paid $104.30 each for the two clones and $80.50 for the Private Reserve. We just received our first crop of Clone 6 and 337 cabernet from our new vines so I wanted to see what the potential for these grapes were. Two nights ago I opened my 2006 Dry Creek Cabernet and a 2006 Rafanelli Cab to compare to the 2006 BV Private Reserve. On first blind taste I was very disappointed in the BV. It was weedy with little fruit. I know some experts like this style of wine and even consumers like the dry taste. I am not a fan. The Rafanelli had some fruit but for my tastes had way too much French Oak in it. Of course I have the Coffaro palate and preferred my wine because it had loads of fruit and was real balanced. I then compared my 2004 Cabernet to the two BV 2004 Cabs and was even more disappointed in the Clone 6 and especially the Clone 337. On first taste they were thin with no fruit. My 2004 Cabernet was tannic but still had fruit.

Last night I tasted all the wines again and I was a little happier with the taste of the Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernets. The Clone 6 was more tannic on the second day and had some character. The clone 337 was still not interesting. I thought my 2004 Cabernet was about the same and the Rafanelli had even taken on a more pronounced oak character. My 2006 Dry Creek Cabernet was the most balanced and enjoyable. I will taste them again tonight and report if I perceive any different results. I rated my 2006 Dry Creek a 90. I rated the Rafanelli, Clone 6 and my 2004 an 86 and the clone 337 an 85. I must assure you that I tasted all of these wines several times, blind and that I am sure many of you might disagree with me. I hope no one would think the BV wines were worth over 5 times more than mine or 3 times more than the Rafanelli. 

Today we finished pressing our three clones of Cabernet, Clone 6, Clone 337 and Clone 341. I am excited because in two weeks I can taste them out of the barrel. Come by and join me.

Friday October 16, 2009

6:30Am: I am down here at the opening of the Stock Market and decided to sell a small amount of my investment in Google, Amazon and Cisco. Those are my biggest investments if I don't consider qqq. I am holding on to qqq and hope to buy back the other three later today or next week. I suspect I have not sold at the top but I do think I will have a chance in the next several weeks to purchase back at these prices or hopefully lower. I am still a believer in the long haul. 

I need to mention again the blind tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon I did over the last three nights. Today I will give the bottles to Matt to see what he thought. 

I was somewhat surprised by what I tasted last night three days after opening. The most striking conclusions I noticed is that the bottles of 2004 Beaulieu Vineyard Clone 6 and especially Clone 337 had deteriorated. They appeared to me to be thin with no character, dry and with no fruit. I will relate a tasting I had back in 1976 later in another section. I am sure my palate has changed over the years but I can't believe anyone would think these wines were worth $149 a bottle. The 2006 Rafanelli had deteriorated a little also, but I thought the 2006 BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve held up well. Sure some of you know I am not a fan of older wines, but I suspect only those who are big fans of very dry wines would like the 2004s. I am no expert of these new BV wines but I tasted my first BV Cabernets back in 1969 so I have had a great deal of experience that I will relate later. Like I say I am not familiar with these new offerings from BV so maybe these wines will develop into great wines in 10 years, but I do not think so.

I am happy to report that my 2004 Cabernet wine from grapes entirely from Doug Rafanelli's terrace vineyard showed better than the night before and my 2006 Dry Creek Cabernet a third from my vineyard, a third from Rafanelli's and a third from other Dry Creek vineyards held steady and was still the best of the 6 wines. Remember I have the Coffaro palate thus I like fruit character in cabernet while many of you may prefer the drier styles with a lot of oak. Most of the drier style of wine is achieved with an extended maceration by leaving the skins on the must well after the wine has finished fermenting. This is a technique which has been used in France for centuries, but like I have said in the past we are still copying the French and we have different weather and should use a technique that is what I believe is more suited to our climate. We press at about 2% sugar while the wine is still fermenting. This is only my opinion. 

I started tasting Georges de Latour Private Reserve back in 1969. The 1964 was the first wine to blow me away. At that time I perceived it to be very smooth. I suspect today if I tasted it I would think it was drier than I remember, but I do think it was a better wine than the 2006 I tasted over the last three days. In those days BV was using a lot of American oak and maybe today they are using French oak. Any of you interested could call the tasting room and I am sure they would tell you. I was so into Georges de Latour Private Reserve that I once went to a blind tasting in the late 70's and I identified correctly the 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970 and I think the 1974 was in the tasting. I was so into that wine because I had purchased many cases over several years.

In the early 70's I discovered Bordeaux and became a bigger fan of French Bordeaux's than California cabernet's. Then Stag's Leap Wine Cellars came along in 1972. Their 1973 Cabernet won The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the Judgment of Paris. On a day in the winter of 1976-1977 my close friend Philip Effenbeck and I purchased a bottle of 1970 Latour at about $30 and a bottle of Stags Leap 1974 (Newly released) Cabernet at I think $7. Most so called experts like Philip and I (G) believe the 1974 was a far better wine than the 1973. I was still really into Bordeaux  but not necessarily Latour. I preferred the more complex styles of La Mission Haut Brion. We were amazed!! You would not believe the two wines came from the same varietal. The Latour was still really backward and showing no fruit, but unlike the BV clone 6 and 337 mentioned earlier the 1970 Latour had more structure with dark tannic character that was brooding. The Stag's Leap was way up front showing incredible fruit that overpowered the underlining tannin. I could not rate either of those wines over the other. They were both great wines. I remember that day well and the Stag's Leap is the style of wine I strive for at David Coffaro Winery in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. 

Monday October 19, 2009

At 8am it is raining again. This time the weather people think it will only be about half an inch. That still will be enough to delay harvesting for another several days. We have not seen much sun for over a week so I suspect the crop still left on the vines has deteriorated. The grapes we need to harvest is carignan. I could do without the other varietals. So the plan is to harvest carignan on Friday if we see a warm up and dry weather until then. The Forecast is for warmer temperatures and dry through next weekend and then maybe another rainy period early next week.

Today we are pressing and filling many barrels with our petite sirah which has been fermenting for over a week so Matt and Canada are busily working to prepare the press. They plan on pressing for several days.

Friday October 23, 2009

4:00Pm: Here it is 4pm and we are in big trouble. Our destemmer just broke down and we can't get it started again. Matt and Steve are off to Trentadue Winery to pick up a destemmer that they were borrowing from a dealer to try out. Trentadue is through for the season so they don't need it anymore. Hopefully our electrical will work with it or we will have to call my electrician. We still have Harris Kratka Zinfandel to destem and our Carignan. It will be a long evening.

Today we picked about two tons of Carignan at 25 brix and the rest should come in next week. The rest looks great as does the Aglianico. Both those sections are at about 24 brix but we would like to see 25 which is what the Clone 341 Cabernet came in at.

We picked the last of our Clone 341 Cabernet yesterday, 1728 pounds. We were holding it to mix with our Cab from the sandy loam. That cab is not looking too well and is only 23 brix. We are seeing some cracking on the skins and it is not tasting too good so we will wait and see. We now have plenty of Cabernet for all our wines so I am not too concerned about not picking the Cab from this bottom soil. Every year that Cab has gone into our Estate Cuvee but I wanted to change the style of that wine by adding more intense Cabernet anyway.

6:00Pm: We are up and running again but the destemmer we are borrowing is much slower OR as the salesman says it is a learning curve. Matt is not happy so we will get our old destemmer fixed in the off season. They have another hour of work left but it will be dark by then so we may have to work with flashlights because they are destemming away from the lights. I think I will go out and turn the lights back toward where they are.....More tomorrow......

Sunday October 25, 2009

In all we ended getting 7.23 tons of our new clone 6, 337 and 341, way more than I had expected. We harvested 2.61 tons last year. Sure the vines are just starting to mature and yes this is a high yielding year and yes I had planned to harvest on average at maturity about 8 tons on the 2 acres we have planted. BUT it now looks like in the future we could yield more than the 8 tons on average. All of our new plantings have been trained on a Geneva Double Curtain high off the ground (4-5 feet) compared to most new methods in the last 15 years (2-3 feet off the ground). I believe to be 4 to 5 feet off the ground helps to keep the grapes from rotting. This was about the 5th year in my 31 seasons here that I have seen a big rain before the grapes are all ripe and I know it will happen again. Also the Geneva Double Curtain is similar to other methods in that yields can be higher than training methods used 30 to 100 years ago. 35 years ago when Caymus and Stags Leap became popular a yield on Cabernet was expected to be 3 to 5 tons to the acre. Now with these new training methods most vineyards should expect 6 tons to the acre on Cabernet Sauvignon. Will this mean the quality will be up to what I want, I doubt it. Let's say by thinning I only obtain 4 tons to the acre or 8 tons of Cabernet. If so that should give me all the Cabernet I want. I have decided to produce 4000 to 5000 cases of wine a year. I want to sell some of my extra yield to Bruce, The Wine Guerrilla. 

8 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon should yield about 500 cases of wine. That is enough Cabernet for my 4 wines that require the varietal. In the future I hope to produce 200 cases of 100% Cabernet or about 3 tons needed. One ton should be enough for My Zin, 2 tons should be enough for my Estate Cuvee and 2 tons should be enough for my Bordeaux blend, Aca Modot. That means I do not need the Cabernet that was planted in our bottom area in sandy loam soil. The problem with that soil is that even though it is well drained and no water ever sits on it, it also holds the moisture especially late in the year when our days are shorter. Also with the extra moisture potential, the ripening is slowed. Over the 26 seasons of growing Cabernet in this section I have tried different watering schemes from not watering after May to watering almost up until harvest. It sure makes a difference depending on a late season like this one or a short season like many from the past. If it is a long season or a late blooming season you risk the possibility of rot from a late rain like this year or if it doesn't rain the vines can run out of moister and poop out. I could go into all possibilities but the bottom line is I have decided to replant the vines. Noble rot which can be OK does not form on Cabernet. After a heavy rain in this kind of soil that we have only in the bottom sandy loam, Cabernet will show a thin crack in the skin that tastes like dirt. I am guessing we may only harvest a small section from these vines this year.

Now what should I plant? It sure won't be one of the varietals that takes a long season to mature like Cabernet, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot or Aglianico or others, especially since we have enough of all of those varietals. I am thinking of planting Syrah or Sauvignon Blanc or possibly both. Both of these varietals mature early in the season and would grow well in this soil. I have a while to make a decision so I will sleep on it. 

Monday October 26, 2009

It will be a hard decision. I must decide which grapes I will harvest next. I just walked out with Catarino and took a look at all the remaining crop. The potential is about 4 to 5 tons of Cabernet from the sandy soil, 1+ tons of Mourvedre, 1+ tons of Cab Franc 1+ tons of Aglianico and about 4 tons of Carignan. I thought the Cab Franc looked good but the sugar sample today came in at 22.3 brix, way too low. We got a sample of the Aglianico and I was happy to see a reading of 26.1. We will harvest those grapes later this week. Two bunches of Mourvedre was at 24.1 and we will do a potential alcohol on the fermenting Carignan we harvested last Friday to see if we want to harvest the rest of the Carignan later this week. Today and tomorrow Catarino and Salvador are harvesting our 2nd crop for the Wine Guerrilla so Wednesday we will be ready for either Carignan or Aglianico. There might be a little rain over the weekend so we must work quickly.

We have decided to not purchase the new destemmer, mainly because it did not work to our satisfaction but also because it will cost me $24,000. I just went into town and found a new motor for our old destemmer and that cost me only $400. Hopefully it will work well tomorrow.

Wednesday October 28, 2009

8:00Pm: I have too many things to state tonight at 8pm. I am still looking forward to seeing the first game of the World Series which of course I have recorded. But I also have many winemaker decisions to make.

Today I was down in San Francisco. I dropped off my Mother and Pat. The Bay Bridge is down...long story I am back home.....

I got a call from one of my best friends yesterday. This is reminding me of 2005 and 2006 when I could not say NO. In those two years I produced for this winery 7,000 cases each year. We have helped out the Wine Guerrilla since then and each year we have still produced 7000 cases but much less for us. 

Sally called yesterday and has 5 tons of low sugar Syrah that she has no home for and these are fabulous grapes. Three days ago I got a call from a neighbor up the hill and said they had a cat that was wonderful and needs a home. Yes I love cats and I love to make wine......More tomorrow..... 

Thursday October 29, 2009

I haven't mentioned the qqq and the stock market for over two weeks so an update is in store. Two weeks ago earnings of some of the big leaders of the qqq were about to be released. After the surprisingly good earnings of Apple, Amazon and Google, those three stocks went to new 12 month highs. Actually Amazon and Apple have set new all time highs. The biggest move was for Amazon which went up from 91 to 125 in two days after reporting fantastic earnings. What has been surprising is that the qqq which represents the top 100 companies on the nasdaq has sold off and may now be a buy again. Amazon is still at 121 but how much further can it go up.

In a few days we will be offering four new 2009 wines on Futures. My good friend Sally is delivering some Syrah today and since we harvested a great deal of our own Petite Sirah grapes, I have decided to offer a new wine which will be called Syrah Sirah. I have not decided the percentages of the Syrah and Petite Sirah and I don't have to make that decision until January. Since the Petite Sirah is a bonus to me and my deal with Sally is reasonable I can afford to offer the 2009 Syrah Sirah for $15 a bottle. That is $12 to Dave's Club members and $13 to Vintage Circle customers. Those of you who have purchased wine from us in the last few years will receive information soon. 

Also on the same offer I will be offering a Pinot Noir from I believe Russian River. Roberto a great vineyard manager for another winery was offered the grapes at a great price. The wine is already in the barrel and tasting fantastic. Since my costs are less than usual I am going to offer that wine for $16 before the usual discounts.

Finally we obtained some Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Doug Rafanelli at a great price and that wine is also in the barrel and really tasting fantastic. I plan on offering the 2009 Sauv Blanc for $12 before discounts. Again those interested will receive an e-mail or you can go online to purchase next week.

I forgot to mention that Matt is making a special wine from mainly Petite Sirah. I will get more details from him but I believe it will be aged in mostly new oak for 16 months. We may offer this 2009 Petite Sirah also next week.

Since I have received much more fruit than expected including much more from the Wine Guerrilla I have had to scurry around to find wine barrels and new racks. The cost to me for all this will be over $20,000. That will amount to about $2 a bottle extra cost this year for the additional wines we will make. It's only money!!! 


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