|Friday July 6, 2007
We are bottling and we have color (veraisan) out in the vineyard. We have seen a lot of the Pinot Noir turning color and much of the peloursin. This could be a real early harvest. Also I am seeing the Zinfandel bunches filling out nicely with the shatter disappearing.
Today we are in the process of bottling 635 cases of our 2006 Fresco. Tomorrow will be Carignan.
We ended up bottling 635 cases of our 2006 Fresco and 316 cases of 2006 Carignan today. Monday we hope to bottle about 730 cases of 2006 Block 4 with about 200 cases left to sell.
As usual our bottling line has been down multiple times. We should be able to easily bottle 150 cases an hour, but we have been averaging a little over 100 cases an hour so Monday will be a long day. On Tuesday we hope to bottle over 800 cases.
Sunday July 8, 2007
As usual on bottling day at dinner I open the wine we just bottled. Last night it was the Carignan. At first I opened the 04 and 05 to compare to the 06. I was so impressed with the 2004 Carignan that I had to go down in my cellar and pull out a 2003 Carignan in screwcap. I thought they would all taste the same since they are all 100 percent Carignan from our Estate vineyard but even though they were all very nice, I was amazed that they were all different. I am happy to report I now like older wines again. The 2003 and 2004 had developed so well under screwcap that they tasted more complex and the 2004 was actually heavier on the palate. Tomorrow I will open the 04, 05 and 06 Block 4. It will be fun.
Tuesday July 10, 2007
Yesterday We finished bottling 737 cases of 2006 Block 4. So last night I tasted the 04, 05 and 06 Block 4 blind many times. I am happy to report that there was little difference in the three vintages. The 2006 compared favorably with the 2005 and at first I thought it was actually the 2005. The 2006 seemed to be a little smoother which after thinking about it makes sense: because it is younger and just bottled. Yes, that seems to be a contradiction because you would think that these newly bottled wines would show a little harshness since they were all shook up in the tank; but I have found over the years that the newly bottled wines lack a little intensity and complexity for the first several weeks. That is why I expected that the 2006 Block 4 would show similar traits like the 2006 Carignan did the other day, but it was just as intense as the 2005 Block 4. I can only hope this could mean that the 2006 could be the best of the 3 Block 4s. I did not open a 2003 because I have only 9 screwcaps left and two synthetics.
I am also happy to report that for the third night the results of the Carignan tasting came out the same. 2003 first followed by the 2004, 05 and 06. The 2003 just shows a little more complexity with the 2004 being a little more intense. The 2006 after two days does show a really nice complexity of oak and fruit.
Today we are bottling our 2006 Dry Creek Cabernet and our 2006 Aca Modot.........more fun tonight!!
Thursday July 12, 2007
Just what I expected: The events of yesterday were unexpected. That is what keeps me interested. Heaven would be too easy.
We had big problems yesterday. The bottling line broke down many times!! Each time was at a different point. Point being: there are several sections involved on this bottling line. Since it is automatic?????, (That is not the fact, but the company says it is automatic) it is supposed the operate without interruption. First we have the labeler. Sure I purchased the first labeler that GAI made; I thought it would work well, but I should have been smart enough to figure out that if this was the first time they had made a labeler it may not be perfect. We have had this labeler for the third season. I own it and it cost about $40,000. I would expect something like this to work without interruption, like our atomobiles.....oh gee have you had anything that you paid $40,000 break down several times an hour, sometimes only for a second, sometimes for a few minutes? Over the last three years we have put up with this labeler, because we could always get it to work again......EVEn though it would cost us several cases an hour. WELL today we had two hours when we were not bottling. Most of the time this labeler was the problem. Long story, but the new techs came out (Everyone from this company I knew from two years ago is gone) puttered around for one hour and finally smiled when I gave them 6 bottles of wine. Yes, I gave them wine even though I have spent over $100,000 for the filler and labeler. This bottling line should produce at least 150 cases an hour and in the three years we have had it we have averaged less than 100 cases an hour. We worked 12 hours today to bottle 750 cases of wine, 62.5 cases an hour. Hopefully today will go better!!
Friday July 13, 2007
Well today was a lucky Friday the 13th for us. Since the Pinot is thin (I am not a Pinot fan) it does not foam while entering the bottle So Steve moved the bottling line up to 200 cases an hour for awhile. With label changes and some usual stoppages we averaged over 150 cases an hour. Today we bottled 368 cases of 2006 Sonoma County Cabernet and 460 cases of 2006 Pinot. Yesterday we bottled 774 cases of 2006 My Zin.
Let me comment on my tastings for the last three nights: I have tasted 2003, 04, 05 and 06 Dry Creek Cabernet, Estate Cuvee, Aca Modot and My Zin. I preferred slightly the 2006 and 2005 Cabernet over the 03 and 04. The 05 and 06 had more complexity and tannin while the 03 and 04 had more fruit. I preferred the 04 in the Aca Modot and the My Zin. I actually preferred the 2006 Estate Cuvee over the 03, 04 and 05. I also tasted the 2005 and 2006 Escuro. They were very different. Even though the 2005 has a percent less alcohol, it has more complexity and tannin than the 2006 which is real smooth. Let me make it clear, I liked all 18 wines very much. 2006 is going to be another great year, but I still think it will be better for Petite Sirah and Cabernet than Zinfandel, but I will have a better idea after tasting our 100% Estate Zinfandel tomorrow and my Petite Sirah Monday. On Wednesday night I had 14 wines open. It was fun. Yesterday I put all the wine I did not taste right into the Escuro tank. Tomorrow we bottle Terre Melange along with the Zinfandel.
This I believe will be the third or fourth time I have talked politics on this diary. The last two times I was reluctant, but I like to document what I am thinking. That is one reason I write this diary. Please don't hold what I say against me. Here goes:
Way back at the start of the Iraq invasion, I thought at that time it was a big mistake invading a country that was somewhat stable (although controlled by a dictator). Just think....How would you feel if a foreign country came into your neighborhood to protect you from??? Sure most of the people in Iraq hoped we would free them from suppression and killings, but I know they hoped that would not expose them to attacks by those who were suppressed like they were. Yes we have a civil war. There are obviously different groups who want to control the country and they will fight for that power. WHY are we there? I don't mean why did we invade (Bush knows that); I mean why are we still there?? We can't win this civil war!! I know we want them all to get along, but just in our Civil War until there is a dominant group the war will go on. Unfortunately we can not stop the bloodshed.
I know some are asking: What happens after we leave? Will they invade us. Who ever the THEY ARE? I believe when we leave Iraq our Nation will be in less threat. THEY will be too involved in much easier conquests over seas to have the time or need to attack us. Thus we have bought ourselves time. Time will help us gather up our troops at home and then direct some of them to the right places overseas. Our troops deserve a rest. Our Nation deserves a rest. We need to obtain respect overseas again. This will be the time to do just that. I keep thinking of several Nations that stay out of conflicts. Of course two come to mind: Japan and Switzerland among others. Why do we have to be the policemen of the world? I could go on, but I am sure some of you think I have gotten in enough trouble for now.
I have to talk about the Stock Market again. This will be the third time. I made two predictions in the past, four years apart. BOTH came true. Here is what I wrote back in November of 2000:
"I know most of you are hoping the stock market will start going up since we finally have a Republican president elect. Beware, check out history. I have been following the stock market since 1962 and have noticed that, probably by chance, the stock market goes up more during Democratic administrations. Just think, for the last year, most of us have expected Bush to get in as our next president. Then why has the general market been going down? In other words, just because we have a Republican in, that doesn't mean the market will go up."Here is what I said back in October of 2004:
"It was interesting that I heard President Bush in the last two debates say that the Stock Market had been going down 6 months before he was elected. Yes I agree that stocks had started down then, but isn't the Stock Market supposed to predict future events. Some of the reason the Stock Market had been going down could have been the realization that we were going to have a Republican President. I see I was right or has History repeated itself again? Although don't worry, just as when Reagan was elected in 1980 the Stock Market went down, but in his second term it started back up again. So my prediction is that no matter who gets elected President the Market will go up."Yes I was right!! The Dow is finally making new highs and the Nasdaq is spurting up very fast. Could the Stock Market be predicting a Democratic President over a year in advance?
Sunday July 15, 2007
I have to use a bucket!! Yes I have to use a bucket to get up onto my forklift. My back has been killing me all of last week. On July 6th we started bottling. Besides organizing the whole thing I have to move the wine palates over to our storage buildings. That meant I had to step up on my forklift at least 4 times an hour. By Sunday the 8th I was suffering through a sharp pain in my back. I guess I was too energetic while stepping up the 27 inches to the seat. I tried using my left leg, but then on Thursday after no improvement in the pain I thought of a stepping stool and a bucket was the perfect height (11 inches high). I trotted over get a 3.5 gallon bucket and stepped up on it which was very easy BUT I looked down and saw I could not reach the bucket to pull it up and store it for further use. SO I hooked up a bungee cord to the end of the bucket and connected it to the forklift in able to pull it back up. After too days of this it is getting quite old, but it must be done for now. I think I can alleviate this problem in the future by using my left leg to step up and I could have a little step welded on the side of the forklift, maybe. It seems like every year I hurt my self in a different way. I'm getting old.
I can't wait for 2006 Petite Sirah tomorrow!!
Tuesday July 17, 2007
The Petite Sirahs all.........2003,04, 05, 06 are great. I love Petite Sirah!! I'll go more in to detail soon.
Tonight I have to ask all of you a question: Do you mind sediment at the bottom of a bottle of wine. I know we have that occurrence in some of our wines. If you pick up our wine after March your chances are that the wine has been cold stabilized and thrown tartrate crystals. The sediment is harmless but I have had numerous e-mails and phone calls of customers who think the wine has gone bad. I can remedy this problem just as high producing wineries do: They chill their wine before bottling. If I hold a red wine at 28 degrees for 3 to 4 days it will settle all the tartrates. Now you might ask: Why haven't I done this before? Yes, it would cost $15,000 AND I did not think it was necessary.
Our wine is stored over in a building that gets down to 55 degrees in the winter. Sure wine will cold stabilize (Settle all the tartrates and other particles) in three days at 28 degrees, but at 55 over four months our wine does settle tartrates. I store my personal wine at 62 degrees. We store our aging barreled wines at about 66 degrees during the 10 months up to bottling.
OK I have three options:
1) I could do nothing!! The least expensive option, MAYBE. What if I am losing customers because they don't like sediment? They might have picked up the wine after it was cold stabilized or they keep their cellar unnecessarily low at 55 degrees. Also I may have some customers who ask for a refund.
2) I could arrange to pipe in our heater from upstairs into the downstairs storage area. Probably $5,000 or so, maybe less!! That way I could keep the wine from cold stabilizing, say at about 65 degrees. BTW I don't think cold stabilizing either hurts or improves a wine.
3) I could purchase a stainless steel tank; $15,000+. I would have to use gas to blanket the top of the tank for at least 4 days at 28 degrees, in my opinion taking a chance of losing fruit in the wine. If the gas does not work perfectly, it could expose the wine to air and thus oxidation.
What do you think??
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