30 December 2009

Happy Winemaker Dance

The results from the ML's on Monday that I mentioned were that the Dunn Forest came back complete except a few barrels and so I ran the rest of the barrels yesterday and I have about 7 barrels out of 53 that aren't quite done. They probably will be next week and the Beckenridge, another 31 barrels, isn't far behind. I am so happy! This is about 2 months ahead of last year. Only the Chardonnay is dragging. Must start cracking the whip I guess! Maybe I'll try to shame it with the happy dance first! Happy New Year to all!

28 December 2009

Post Christmas, pre New Year

Sorry I didn't write last week, I did work but then decided to enjoy a few days off with my husband which did not involve updating my blog. On an exciting note, well for me anyway, all the Foch has finished ML. Isn't that a pretty picture. All those yellow dots up top and at the bottom and none left in the middle. I also ran aspirations to check the free SO2 in the port and the 2008 Dunn Forest Pinot noir in barrel. I always feel like a mad scientist when I have bubbling flasks. I have three barrels of DF, for you fans and that should be ready to drink in 2-3 years at the earliest. The SO2 (sulfites) are added to the wine to protect it against both oxidation and microbial infection. I have heard customers complain about headaches for sulfites, especially reds, in the tasting room but almost never are the sulfites to blame. Whites usually have more sulfites than red wines and the most commen alergic reaction is more of an asmatic repsonse rather than headachaes. Just something to keep in mind when your friend claims she can't drink red wine because of the sulfties.

This morning was back to work though, in the dark and cold! And I have to drudge 17 miles through the snow, up hill, both directions! Just kidding, though it was cold, my car said 25F, and that thin sheet of ice really kept it interesting. Because of the cold and clear sky the sun rise was quite pretty, I had to get a picture while making my coffee. Then I wondered around the winery admiring the frosty edges and there is ice on the pond!! If this weather keeps up maybe I'll get to go out again. I'm not holding my breath though. The cold has helped drive all the sap to the roots of the vines and pruning should start in the next few weeks. When the guys are done the vineyard and vines always look so neat and tidy. As far as work I stirred the Chardonnay barrels and ran a ML check on the Pinot noir and Chard barrels. We'll see if they are moving as well as the Foch. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

18 December 2009

Quiet Time

I had a very difficult time writing this week after all the excitement of last week. I kept waiting and waiting, hoping something might come along that was fun to talk about. And now here it is Friday evening and I figure reading about my doing data entry for a day has to be as bad as me writing about doing it and even worse than the actual data entry. No more on the subject and no more run on sentences.
Yesterday we got the newsletter out and that took most of the day. I am sorry that you couldn't see the pictures in the letter, I should have checked that first. It has something to do with the mailing program we use. I'll get it right for next time.
On a winemaking note I did do ML's early on in the week, see below if you want more information, and excitingly, for me at least, things are moving! About a 1/3 of my sample barrels are done and that is great for mid-December. Today I spent topping all the barrels (pinot, foch, chard) and stirring the chard. Things are looking and smelling good.
On the weather front, our ice is long gone, how sad, and we have had several days of fog, which has made it feel cold and damp and dark though admittedly it isn't particularly cold. I am however very ready for the short days to be getting longer, winter solstice isn't too far away. Yeah! I hope you all have a great weekend and enjoying getting ready for Christmas.

11 December 2009

Airlie employees walk on water . . .

. . . according to Mary and who are we to dissuade her. It did stay cold enough to ice skate and we had a great time. Barry, sadly, couldn't find his skates so we had to switch back and forth. Its hard to play crack the whip with only one person in skates. The amazing part was that no one fell. Probably because we only had one pair of skates. What perfect ice!

10 December 2009

A busy and varied week

I wasn't sure what to share with you this week. It was quite varied. I started with stopping the last tank of Pinot gris fermentation by adding SO2 (sulfites) and turning the tank with argon gas to mix the solution in, otherwise it tends to stratify in the tank which leads to other problems. The second picture is looking down on the wine from the top of the tank. We also tasted through all the white wines from 2009. I am quite happy with what we have so far this year and as always I love comparing and contrasting the flavors, colors and aromas.

Then yesterday, Wednesday, we took a field trip and met up with Darcy Pendergrass from Amity Vineyards for lunch at La Rambla in McMinnville. Eating there is so much fun if you are into small plates and sharing with friends. Our waiter generously took a picture so you can see us all. From left to right: Barry Glassman, Darcy Pendergrass, myself and Mary Olson. Barry does our marketing and Mary is the owner of Airlie and who you will probably meet if you ever come to the tasting room.

Finally today I had some lab work to do, checking pH and acidity on the white wines as most of them are finished with fermentation. Just two slowpokes left. Also we have lots of X-mas shipping, (hint hint) for those of you still undecided what to send your friends. We will gladly add a card and if you order next week we should be able to make it most places by Christmas. www.airliewinery.com

For those of you not on the west coast we are having unseasonably cold weather and so I also had to check out the pond and see if we might be skating tomorrow. It looks promising, the first time in 10 years I might have a place to skate. I promise to post an updated picture if we get out there.

02 December 2009

Malo-lactic Fermentation

This week I am checking ML's for the first time. This is a two day process because after putting all the pretty little dots of wine on the lovely white paper I have to put the paper in a jar of chromatography solvent. It then sits for eight hours, the chromo solvent slowly working its way up the paper. The next step is to pull it out and let the paper dry over night and finally the next day the separated dots are ready to be read. Some of you might remember this from high school chemistry class. In our class, we put dots on the paper from various black felt tip pens and then looked at the separation of the colors that occurred. Ring any bells? In this case I use capillary tubes to put the dots on the paper. Ideally all the dots end up the same size and are well centered. Don't look at my dots too closely! ;-)
Everything in barrel gets checked for ML i.e. Chardonnay, Marechal Foch and Pinot noir. Hopefully everything will be done by the end of February but there are always a few lagging barrels. I am sure you will get to read about that later.
For those of you unfamiliar with ML: It is a bacteria fermentation rather that a yeast fermentation that coverts malic acid, like that found in green apples to lactic acid, like that found in milk. Winemakers tend to have wines which are to be barrel aged go through the process because of a shift in pH that occurs which increases mouth-feel and approachability in wines. Especially young wines are very tart, at least here in the Willamette Valley and this helps address that acidity. White wines made in tank and intended to be drunk chilled rarely go though ML. In whites I want that extra bit of brightness.

28 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Well I had the best of intentions to post before Thanksgiving when we had a beautiful fall day and the neighbor dogs came for a romp. Yes, that would be 7 dogs; three Irish Setters, two Australian Shepherds, one Golden Retriever and one long haired Dachshund. It was a lovely muddy walk after the rain the last two days but fun none the less. I have to admit that I didn't take the time to take the walk but sent my camera along instead and I think all were having fun.

Of course I couldn't post on Thursday as I was having a wonderful time with friends and family.

So back to work on Friday for a short day, I just needed to stir the Chardonnay barrels. I do this about once a week and it is always kind of fun. The Chardonnay is done with primary fermentation, that is converting the sugar to alcohol and is now in the midst of secondary or malo-lactic fermentation which is converting malic acid to lactic acid, this is done by bacteria rather than yeast. I am stirring the barrels to keep the yeast in suspension which helps increase mouth feel and texture.

If you don't have any plans for today or tomorrow I recommend heading out to the winery for some of Mary's wonderful appetizers and some great wine, not that I'm biased. The 2008 Chardonnay is now available and while a little more time in the bottle would be recommended I think its very tasty.

17 November 2009

Lovely Riesling

Yesterday I was busy topping all day. The first time after barreling everything down is very slow. This year I have about 90 barrels of pinot, 40 barrels of marechal foch and 18 barrels of chardonnay. Everything looks beautiful and as I love to think about it: the wines are all potential. It's also just a great time to be in the barrel room because I am warming it to about 62F. Cozy compared to the winery which is about 50F.

What number?
Returning the sample
Riesling Tank

Today I had paperwork, getting labels approved by the TTB and checking on my lovely Riesling. I love riesling while it is fermenting, gorgeous smells and great flavors. It should be done in another 3 weeks. Can you believe the rain that came down last night? I had 0.7" at my house last night. I think the vineyard got about the same. Soggy!