21 December 2010

Twas the week before Christmas . . .

. . . and all through the winery not a creature was stirring because we all went out to lunch.  I have a new recommendation for those of you who live in the area.  They have been open for a while and while I had enjoyed the fruits of their labor, delicious, I hadn't made it up there personally until last month.  And then we went again yesterday!  Some how The Bread Board in Falls City is very inviting on a winter day.  The cheerful paint; red floors with periwinkle, green and mustard yellow walls, not as garish as it sounds trust me, the huge brick oven and of course the ever charming Travis all combine to make it the place to visit and the excellent food make it the place to come back to.  They have built a beautiful brick oven and bake breads, scones, biscotti, pizza and more.  We all trooped up there yesterday to deliver some empty barrels, we being Sebastian, Barry, Mary and myself and had a wonderful lunch.  There was even some sunshine coming in.  What more can you ask for during winter in Oregon.  We had salads and grilled panini sandwiches finished off with a variety of biscotti, all of them were excellent.  I have heard stories about their sticky buns but have yet to have one myself, apparently one bun can feed three and I've also heard rumors that they go fast so you might want to call ahead and reserve one.  So if you are looking for a little place to check out some afternoon that's cozy and inviting or a new place to go for wood fired pizza I highly recommend The Bread Board.  I'm including their website here if you would like more information.
Back in the winery I am working on the next set of bentonite trials.  I was able to bracket the pass/fail point on the two wines last week so this week I am fine tuning that point by rerunning the test and dosing the wine in smaller increments.  Hopefully I can nail it with this test otherwise I'll have to do it one more time. Imagine putting my water bath in there!  I think it would boil away in just a few minutes.  Now pizzas on the other hand . . .
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!  
And may you enjoy your drink as much as Phineas!
Steamed Milk, good to the last drop!

17 December 2010

Soil Nutrition and Bentonite Trials

So as the title suggested I learned about soil nutrition and the use of fertilizer at a workshop on Wednesday I attended with Mary.  It was very interesting and I certainly learned a lot though I was distinctly reminded of sitting in High School Chemistry a few times.  I couldn't tell you the last time I looked at a Periodic Table and asking me to remember what cations versus anions are or even divalent ions!  Fortunately our lecturers were prepared for our lack of knowledge and we all got a brief chemistry lecture along with the soil science.  One of the most interesting things I learned, though it was by no means startling, is how badly humans have stripped the soil of life and thus productivity.  We are able to make it work with the use of chemicals but it doesn't work as efficiently nor is it as healthy for the rest of the environment.  We also learned about what different minerals do in the soil and some ways of improving the health of our soil not only for ourselves but also ways that won't show up for another 40 years.  Helping not ourselves but rather future generations.  By the way the answers are positive ions, negative ions and ions with a double charge.
In the winery I have been checking the wines for cold stability, everything failed, and protein stability, only Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer failed.  I was a little surprised that the Riesling failed the cold stability trial because it spent several weeks as juice kept at about freezing and I thought that would have caused most the tartaric acid to precipitate out but I guess not.  I don't know if the process of fermentation freed more tartaric acid or if there was more in the juice than could precipitate out in the time given earlier.
After the Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer failed I set up Bentonite trials.  I dosed samples of each wine with varying amounts of Bentonite, a clay, allowed the wines to settle overnight and today filtered a small amount of each dosed wine through a syringe filter.  I put all the filtered samples in a water bath where they will sit for the next 6 hours at 176 F/80 C.  After that I will let the samples cool and see if any protein settles out.  If I am lucky I will have bracketed the ideal dose and next week will run fine tuned trials so that I can add just enough to get the job done.  Bentonite, like all fining agents, takes other things from the wine besides protein so I try to use the minimum necessary for each wine.  And yes, I am working at home today, there is no club chair at work.

Back at the winery we have had lots of rain!  The bottom of the dock is at the surface of the pond which means the pond is very full! But we haven't had a lot of cold weather which means the vines haven't shut down enough for pruning.  We are still waiting for the sap to finish running back into the roots.  Hopefully next month we'll get a cold snap and be able to start.  A cold snap would help me with cold stabilizing the wine as well.  We'll see what nature brings us.

08 December 2010

A quiet week in December

I don't have much to write about this week.  The winery is pretty quiet and it would appear that the gray days are here to stay for a while which always lowers my motivation.  I stopped the fermentation on the Riesling at the end of last week with a combination of chilling and sulfur and now the lees are settling to the bottom.  I'll rack it soon and then chill the settled wine for cold stabilization.  The Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer are still poking along but they are just about dry so I think they will be stopping on their own soon.  When I think they are done they will also get sulfur.  The picture is of the wines being checked by Clini-test tablets after being spun out.
I spent yesterday packing up packages for the tasting room but unfortunately the weather in the mid-west means that nothing is shipping out.  Hopefully the US will get a warm week before Christmas so that we can ship.  My understanding is that most UPS ground packages go by rail across the top of the US, come into Chicago and are redistributed from there.  If anyone can confirm or deny or even better actually has the standard routes I would love to have that information.  It is always disappointing to tell someone in Florida that we can't ship their wine because while its warm here and warm there it isn't warm enough en route.

I did realize last week that I have been posting for over a year.  Kind of hard to believe from my side that another year has passed.  Now you are going to start getting some repeat information as I do have a cyclic job but hopefully I can keep it interesting enough to keep you coming back.  My job keeps me coming back as it is never quite the same twice!  For your enjoyment, our shivering chardonnay vine and Christmas lights, Airlie style!  Thanks Mary T!