David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

arrow April 15 - April 21, 2012

Sunday April 15, 2012    

Tax day again although I hear we have two more days to file.

I opened another two wines, one with the saranex closure and the other with tin liner. This time it was the 2004 Aca Modot, a nice wine. There was a definite difference and I preferred the tin again. It had more fruit.

We are still getting many wine club sign ups and we have to make some decisions regarding the direction in the future. We may offer a 12 bottle option along with the usual 6 bottle shipment.

In the last few days I have been re-doing my map of the vineyard. I have to show Catarino where to plant 2300 new vines. On Wednesday, we pick up 726 Zinfandel benchgrafts, 500 Montepulciano, 200 Cabernet Franc, 200 Aglianico, 300 Petit Verdot, 200 Merlot and 100 Gewurztraminer. It will be fun.  

8: 00 Pm:   I just finished a great BBQ pizza. BBQ is a challenge and I like the adventure. My pizzas are usually burnt on the edges so some of you may not like them. I like the burnt flavor and I have heard some of you do also. Tonight as usual I leave the center open as I am preparing the crust, the dough to soon be crisp. I put herbs and goat cheese in the middle of the pizza mound high. Pat is not in favor of the middle so I am happy to consume what she does not want.

Pat is away as some of you who have read this diary know. We needs breaks so she has left me again. She is off in The City to see the first 4 Giant games. I will go up to our movie room soon to see how the the Giants did today. I record the game so I can look at it later.   

10:00 Pm: Darn the Giants lost. Pat is easy going so she will be back up ready to see her 4th game tomorrow. I am fading as a Giant fan, I get too critical, but I still like sports. Games are always unpredictable and I love watching. 

I have to escape to a Mike Wallace tribute now. Tomorrow is another day.

Monday April 16, 2012

The Mike Wallace tribute on 60 minutes was wonderful. If I was a journalist/interviewer I would have wanted to be just like he was. He was so brutal and got some important people to imply or actually admit to who they really were. I will miss him.

This was one of my busiest mornings in awhile. I may write more later after dinner. I have had so many people contact me in person, by phone and by e-mail. Even Kathy Coffaro has written a few e-mails, nothing important to relay....just remembering the past a little and getting reacquainted.

10:30 Pm:

Pat is coming home tomorrow. We will get back to normal...what ever that is. It will be fun to hear about her experiences in The City. I grew up in The City and I am glad I am in the country. Like I have said before, I am starting to appreciate The City again after 40 years. Yes 1971 was when I moved out of The City.....Long story.

Does anyone remember my rant about my ice maker? Well it is still ongoing. To refresh your memory, I have a GE refrigerator that is only two years old. It does not make good ice. Ok some of the time the ice is fine but other times the ice is clumped up and other times there is a mass of water sitting in my ice tray and sometimes it doesn't even make ice. I have to constantly monitor the ice maker. Sometimes I dump it out. Why do I have to put up with this?

Like I say Pat is home tomorrow and I think I will plead for the refrigerator in the basement with the good ice maker be put upstairs. Yes it isn't as fancy. But I don't think Pat cares and it will make me very happy. Ice water is always important in the evening.

The first thing I saw was a message from someone. I avoided looking at it because there were too many things going on.

7:00Am: I hear Catarino, Salvador and most important Martha, Catarino's wife. I had the house in good order, but Martha made it better for Pat to come home. I have to get up!! I am down stairs by 7:30 and see many messages to respond to. I do a few e-mails and Catarino comes in to collect my 25 envelopes for compliance to states we ship to.

8:00 Am: Catarino knows me well. He is usually so excited to talk to me, but if I am grumpy, he tries to be more quiet. He tells me there is a man in the yard. I ask back: who is he? I find out this guy is organized. I like that. This contractor is on time and will help me complete my storage building for the first time. Long Story

At the same time I have the local compliance guy come by. He is a very nice person and supplies us with Roundup and other non toxic things like sulfur. I have to sulfur this week end again. Long story.............

The new guy who brings us Fuel comes in.

All these people are in here at the same time. It is fun.

8:30 Am:  

I get a message from Pat.....

I get a call from Big "O" the reliable tire store in Healdsburg, 7 miles away. My tires are ready. All 4 of my run flat tires on my 2011 535i BMW are bulging and had to be replaced. Do not order run flat tires!!!!

I tell Catarino Pat wants 250 boxes made up and he has to come with me to bring my BMW down the road so the tires can be replaced. He always is happy to please me.

Then I get a call from Matt. It is his day off so why is he calling? He wants his check and wants to drive out here. I ask him why does he want his check today? He never cashes it for days. He says he is just in Healdsburg and thought he would drive out. Of course I said great!!! You can drive me here. I will meet you with my BMW and leave it at Big "O". I will have Catarino drive me back for the pick up at 3:30.

9:00 Am: I finally get a chance to see the message. I get through one sentence of the e-mail and decide I have to wait to respond. I have much more to deal with today.

Google is down today so I don't have time to see why, but I do see all tech stocks are down so I move quickly to Schwab and buy another 10 shares.

9:30: Am: I go up stairs and grab a quick look at our local paper on my computer and have a short snack.

Martha informs me she is ready to clean the house so I retreat to the office. Many more things happen......

10:00 AM: Matt picks me up at Big "O" and drives me back to the winery. He collects his check and is off.

11:00 Am: Catarino and I have to walk out in the vineyard to make sure we are ready to plant 2326 vines starting on Wednesday when he picks the vines up at the nursery. I let him know there are many things to do before we plant. We have to get ready for our wine club shipment. We walk out and do some important planing. We decide to plant next week.

Things settle down for a short while...Cindi is here to take care of customers. I can relax for a short while............

Tomorrow is another day.........

Thursday April 19, 2012

8:00 Pm: As usual there are too many things going through my mind. I have to focus for the next day. I know time has passed since my last entry but I have been addressing many e-mails and many things needed to be organized here at the winery to get prepared for our next wine shipment. That involves processing credit cards to make sure they go through. There are always 100 bounces and we have to deal with them. If I haven't responded to some e-mails I apologize.

I am a risk taker and have not been concerned about making mistakes. I trust my judgment. I know I have stated in this diary, that some people have taken advantage of me. I have learned from my mistakes but I am still vulnerable. I let someone hang themselves.....first....before I mistrust them. OK I have to explain myself, because this is only one of many people who has disappointed me.........

Let's say someone a contractor says they will complete a job. Yes a contractor did commit to finishing a job and has not come through for a year. We need to clear up the problem I described back in December regarding our new storage building....take a look back if you are interested. This individual has hanged himself with me. He has taken my money and not come back. Hey it is not that bad, I could hound him for days and he would probably complete the project....but I do not want to nag anyone.

Two weeks ago I get an e-mail from a nice lady who wants to invite a Yoga class here to do their thing and have a snack and then taste wine. I have mentioned before I tried one Yoga exercise that helped my pinched nerve. So I agreed to have her come out for an appointment. I took a look at her website and it looked normal. She came out with her husband and I immediately asked what he did. I always put people on the spot...usually I ask "how do you survive". I gave him a break. To make a long story short the husband is a contractor and may help take over for the guy who failed the test.

Now I get a contractor and maybe a Yoga lesson at my winery.

Pat is back and I have to pick out a movie....no Giants game tonight.....................later  

Saturday April 21, 2012

This morning I was up at 6:30 Am because I had to sulfur the vineyard for the first time. There is very little growth but some of the vines have experienced bud break for almost two weeks. Our weather has been cool until yesterday and today which have had highs into the 90's. We have also had some rain in the last two weeks which has contributed to the slow growth. Sulfur dust is necessary to control powdery mildew. Here is how I explained this operation back in 1999:

"As I mentioned, I sulfured our vineyard on my birthday two days ago. Sulfur dust is necessary to preserve the quality of the grapes that I harvest for our wines. A tractor is used to drive a machine that agitates the sulfur to push it out into the air in a fine mist. Sulfur dust is like any other fine dust. You shake it out into the air and it disappears. Grape farmers must apply this sulfur dust either early in the morning or late at night when the air is calm. This procedure is one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen in my life. On a very calm morning, the dust will just cling in a very small spot over the vineyard as the tractor is driving through. As the wind comes up, the sulfur will dissipate into the air and not cling to the vines. On May 3rd, it was a calm morning but there was a rain just before I went out into the vineyard. To me, that is the best time to dust but also the most unpredictable. The rain could very well come in again and wash off all the sulfur, but if it did not rain (as happened the other day), the sulfur will cling to the wet leaves. With my experience in the last 20 years, this time of the year does bring a lot of wind here to the valley. Therefore, if you do not sulfur one day when it is calm, it may be too windy the next. Today, the temperature reached 85 degrees and tomorrow it could get even higher. Sulfur dust can burn the leaves at between 90 to 100 degrees, or even higher. I'll get more into this potential problem later in the year. Without sulfur dust, a powdery mildew will form on the leaves and grape clusters. I call it a dry form of mildew, a kind of black dust that will grow on the grapes. In small amounts, as a winemaker, I have found that it can even add character to the wine. But it also can completely destroy a crop if left unattended. From the limited courses I took at Santa Rosa J.C., I remember that this powdery mildew forms at between 75 and 90 degrees. Actually, at over 100 degrees, the mildew can be killed, but of course at that temperature, the quality of your grapes may be deteriorating as well. As the year goes on, I'd like to report more about how important it is to apply the sulfur at the right time. As a grower and a winemaker, I feel it is essential to be living on the property where the grapes are being grown to assure that this dust is applied at the right time."  

I mentioned many times in this diary how important it was to sulfur the vineyard. If you want to search the word "sulfur" on our diary home page you could learn much more. This morning it was so calm and I had opened the valve for more flow that the dust was covering about three acres at a time. I didn't want to put too much sulfur out because it will certainly be in the low 90's today. I finished the whole vineyard of 20 acres in less than an hour. If it doesn't rain in the next 10 days, I will not have to sulfur again until just before my birthday on May 3.

4:00 Pm: I looked back to see if I posted any notes about my tasting in the last two weeks and I don't see that I did. As usual winemaking is unpredictable. Most of you know Cabernet based wines are aged more in barrel before they are bottled. I have felt most times Cabernet is aged too long in new oak which can overpower the fruit. I still here people say a wine tastes dry, especially when describing Cabernet. I feel that is because they are used to tasting wine that has little fruit left. All our red wines have no sugar left in them so technically they are dry, but I feel what we are doing is different because we are trying to keep as much fruit in the wines as possible.

As I have said before I deplore extended maceration. This is the method of leaving the wines on the skins after going dry and thus losing all the the grape sugar. By doing this for several days to weeks a wine is oxidized and thus losses fruit character. I know why this is done. First they are following the French again, tradition. Second they want a wine to be more drinkable when it goes into the barrel. We are different: We press into the barrel when the wine still has some sugar left, usually at about 2-3% sugar. The fermentation finishes in the barrel with a bung loose, thus oxidizing less. We do other things different but I won't go into that now.

I am mentioning this now because as you know we have been aging half our wine longer in the barrel. We are still pressing early, aging some of our wine 6 months longer for about 16 months. I have enough of the 2009 and 2010 wines to now compare. I have been amazed at the results. In the last two weeks I have opened our 2009 Cabernet in both the 10 month version and the 16 month version. Also I have opened the two 2010 Cabs. I prefer the 16 month aged wines. That is not surprising since this has been tradition for centuries. I do like the 10 month versions for their intensity and strong fruit character, but the 16 month aged wines were more complex and had nicer finishes, smoother.

Then I tried Petite Sirah and Lagrein our two heaviest wines and could find very little difference.....could it be the barrel that was used??? Then I tried the 2009 Zinfandel and 2010 Zinfandel in both the 10 month version and 16 month version and preferred by far the 10 month aged wines. What was amazing?:....by tasting blind the zins had the  same character but in comparison the opposite of the cabs. The cabs aged 16 months seemed smoother than the cabs aged 10 months but the zins aged 16 months were sharper than the 10 month aged wines as if the 16 month wines were younger. Could it be the barrels, I doubt it but I will look to see which barrels were used. Winemaking is a mystery. I will never have all the answers.


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