David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

October 17 - October 23, 2010 

Tuesday October 19, 2010

Things happen. Changes happen. We have started two old fermentations, the raisin experiment and our Zinfandel. First I will talk about our Zinfandel. As I mentioned last week most of our Estate Zinfandel harvested last month has either residual sugar or alcohols over 16%. I have decided to re-inoculate all 28 barrels with a large amount of yeast. To make sure the fermentation finishes to dryness I have decided to use two barrels of Mourvedre that was just harvested yesterday. The resultant final blend will have about 6% Mourvedre. I will make sure the alcohol will end up at 15% or a little over. 

To start this going we destemmed 1300 pounds of Mourvedre yesterday and pressed two barrels worth into a tank today. Then we added 5 pounds of U43 yeast. When the mass starts to get active we will start adding our 28 barrels of Zinfandel. At one time I was thinking about fermenting the Mourvedre on the skins and adding the zinfandel to our small one ton fermenters, but we have received a large amount of grapes this week and we need the fermenters. Also it makes a cleaner fermentation if we use fresh juice with no complications that skin contact can present. I will report more about this project in the future.

Now let me discuss our big problem child, the monster Zinfandel raisin experiment. Check out the diary in the last two weeks to find out about the complicated experience we have had with these raisins. I reported last week that we finally got good color and the fermentation was nearing a finish BUT the mass started to slow down and finally stopped. So we had to restart the fermentation. First of all we pressed the three fermenters and found out that after working hard to control the alcohol in the last two weeks, the potential still looked to be as high as 17%. That is why it got stuck. We decided to add more yeast and some water to bring the final alcohol to about 15.5%, a hardy wine. The residual sugar after pressing is still over 5% so it will take a week or so to finish to dryness. The taste of the wine is great with no port flavors or burnt raisin indications. It will be fun to taste it at dryness.

Wednesday October 20, 2010

7:00Am: We have about 7 barrels fermenting in a small tank that holds 10. In this tank we have the approximate two barrels pressed yesterday from 1300 pounds of Mourvedre. Yesterday we added some water to rehydrate 5 pounds of U43 yeast and added that to the tank. After two hours we added one barrel of Zinfandel that was fermented last month. We checked the sugar reading and found it to be about 15%, plenty of fuel to referment all 28 of the Zinfandel barrels fermented last month. A few hours later there was good action in the tank, a lot of popping and rolling of the liquid. At 4 pm we added 3 more barrels of Zinfandel and by 6 pm we saw even more action in the tank. This morning there is a vigorous fermentation visible in the tank and in a few hours we will add the rest of the 28 Zinfandel barrels. First we will bring down our big tank that holds up to 40 barrels. We will put the approximate total of 31 barrels in the tank and then refill cleaned barrels. Before refilling we will check to see the approximate potential alcohol and adjust the mass to about 15-15.5. After one week we should be almost finished to dryness in each barrel. Friday we will check a few barrels to make sure we have the right alcohol adjustment, but of course it will be much easier if we don't have to adjust all barrels after they are stacked so we will make a few tests today. 

Friday October 22, 2010

I just read an interesting article in the Press Democrat, our local Santa Rosa paper. It was in Sunday's paper but I didn't have time to read it then. It was about spouses during Harvest, widows as they are called. The spouses are the one's who stay home taking care of the Family matters while the other partner is working many hours away from home as a Winemaker. It portrays these Winemakers as Zombies who work long hours, come home, eat and go to bed while interacting with the Family very little for three months. 

I have said before I have a big advantage as a winemaker who lives at the winery. I can go to the winery 50 feet away at night and do what is necessary while others have to stay late at a winery sometimes many miles away from where they live. Most days I am up early and walk over to the winery at about 7am. I work until about 5:30pm and walk a few steps back to our kitchen and start dinner. I am the cook so I usually choose what I want to eat. These meals are not simple. Last night I made a risotto from the meat off roasted wings. First I roasted the wings and then sautéed several cups of fresh peppers from our garden along with onions and garlic. On Tuesday I had saved a pork left over from Pork chops cooked two ways. Pat likes pork cooked more than I so I roasted hers and stuffed it with mushrooms and onions and bbq'd mine to medium. I took the bones and other left overs and made a stock Wednesday to use with the risotto. The cooking was much more complicated than what I describe but the meals I make take about 1.5 hours and we usually eat about 7 to 7:30. Pat usually stays on the computer until dinner responding to the 50 to 100 e-mails we get a day. Of course there is some wine consumed from about 6pm until 8. I have trouble consuming alcohol for more than two hours. Then lately we have been watching Baseball. I hate sleeping so I usually go to bed about 11pm. 

Our Zinfandel I reported about this week has been successfully combined with two barrels of Mourvedre and 5 pounds of yeast. We have 31 barrels happily fermenting again. Our raisin experiment is perking away also. We are probably through harvesting but I will see how much rain we get because it looks like we will only make about 3500 cases. This year we have already sold about 5000 cases so I need to make more wine or I better have a large crop next year.

We have been pressing everyday this week again and soon I should have a better idea of what wines we will make this year.


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