29 January 2011

Final days of January

It's sometimes hard to believe how fast time passes as an adult.  I remember as a kid how a month of school seemed like an eternity.  Now I look at how little time it is especially when I think about all the things that I enjoy doing and trying to find the time to do them.

Slush (1-2 hrs) vs. Hard (24hr.) Freeze
The winery is still quiet.  Monday I added cream of tartar to the whites to help finish cold stabilizing them this week.  The same as used in cooking and much cheaper so if you are ever in need hit up your favorite winemaker.  I buy it in 50# bags versus the 1.5oz containers that the grocery store sells.  That's over 530 little containers.  The chilling system seems to be hanging on and getting the job done thought I think we still need to work on it a little.  I checked the Gew├╝rztraminer yesterday to see if it is cold stable and I think it is.  Yeah!  The slush freeze didn't throw anything and the hard freeze was just medium light.  The cream of tartar is doing its job.  Since the GT passed I'll check the Pinot gris and Riesling on Monday.  If they both pass then it is time to start filtering.  Filtering won't be quite the major operation it normally is because I have so much less wine and I sure won't need to create a filtering schedule charting out all my moves like last year.

Yesterday I went over to Roth's, a local grocery store chain, to show a few of my wines to the wine stewards for all the different stores and hopefully to drum some sales up in Oregon.  The advantage of the tasting is not only to remind the stewards what the wines taste like but also to give them a few selling points for when they are talking with customers and for them to have a face, mine of course, to put with the wines.  I like working with Roth's stores because I feel that they do a great job supporting local businesses; wineries and farms alike.  They are also good about labeling local produce and meats and stating where all their seafood is coming from, something that is of up particular importance to me.

I think our new website is getting close.  There have been some technical problems which is why our website was just a black and white page for a day or two but that seems to have been straightened out.  So in the next few weeks we should be making the switch.  When we do I'll post a link here.  Would it help if I put a link on the Airlie Winery facebook page too?  Leave a comment and let me know what is the easiest way for you to continue to follow what I am doing.

20 January 2011

Winter in Oregon

I'm not sure what to write about this week.  I must admit that this is not my favorite time of year.  Short, dark days tend to make me sleepy and desirous of curling up in a ball on the couch and reading or stitching.  I do realize that we are well past the shortest day of winter and that the evenings are certainly staying light longer which does inspire me to do more about the house.  This week I cooked two very good meals, if I do say so myself.  Tuesday night we had a some beef and barley soup that I cobbled together from three recipes.  I still will have to work on that one but combined with my fresh rolls it was definitely effective at combating the cold outside.  Last night I made Chicken Cacciatore from Cooks Illustrated.  It came out well though I think it might have benefited from some kalamata olives.  I love hitting the little salty spots that olives create.  Tonight is leftovers so will see if either dish benefited from some melding in the fridge.  I might throw some olives in the Cacciatore just to see.

Back at the winery things are quiet.  I have been trying to run the chilling to cold stabilize the white wines to get them ready for filtering but the system has been a little uncooperative.  I came in one morning to see glycol foaming out of the top of its storage barrel and at the price of glycol even losing a little is not a good thing.  Added to this problem is that I am trying to chill small amounts of wine.  It seems like this should be easier but instead what happens is that there is not enough wine in contact with the coils that wrap around the tank so actually extracting the cold from the glycol is difficult and I have to be careful that I don't damage the tanks by letting the steel get too cold.  The glycol can actually cause the metal to shrink and buckle if it is allowed to get too cold.  So Mary and I are trying to monitor the temperature on the tanks, the glycol level in the storage barrel and chill the wines.  Mother nature was helping, we even had a few snow flurries and then it warmed up to 50F for a few days and dumped lots of rain even in the mountains which distressed the skiers and now we are back down to 35F.  I am surprised more of us aren't sick!  As far as for the reds I am still waiting for the last four barrels of pinot to complete ML and I have been catching up on my lab work checking SO2 levels, pH, acid levels and alcohols.

In the vineyard the guys are pruning in the rain, snow and sun, kind of like postmen.  You can see last years canes between the rows on the right.  Later when the ground has firmed up they will be mulched into the soil with the tractor.
One of my current stitching projects.

03 January 2011

Happy New Year!

A bright and shiny new year for us all.  I already have my fingers crossed for a better vintage but I have 9 or 10 months until I know what this year is bringing.  Not being a New Year Resolution type person I don't have any resolutions to talk about but as always I do have the goal to eat healthy and get more exercise.  End of discussion.  And you can just see the pond is freezing.  Maybe we'll get a day of skating again!
In the winery last week I added bentonite to remove the protein from the Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer.  I am going to check today to see if I added enough.  The effectiveness of bentonite is temperature dependent so while I try to keep the samples at the same temperature as the wine what worked in the lab doesn't always work in the winery.  Hopefully it did as we are having a bit of a cold snap, 22F as I was driving in this morning, and I can use mother nature to help me cold stabilize the whites.   I need to chill them down to about 32F and keep them there for a week or two until all the tartaric acid precipitates out.  Depending on the amount of tartaric acid this can cause an acid shift in the wine which this year might be a good thing as I find the wines a little tart.  
Last week, I also added SO2 to the barrels on Pinot noir that are finished with ML.  After adding the SO2 I stir the barrels to mix in the SO2 otherwise it tends to settle to the bottom and then I top the barrels before putting in the new bung.  You can see in the pictures the two types of bung I use.  One allows the barrel to outgas, important during ML and the new one is a solid bung which reduces the amount of oxygen getting in.  I still have a few barrels of pinot which haven't finished ML and I am waiting for them to poke along to the finish.  ML bacteria of course doesn't like these cold temperature so what didn't finish last week may now sit for a little while until the barrel room gets a little warmer, the bacteria would rather be at 60-65F rather than the 45F the barrel room is now. 
 Pruning is starting in the vineyard this week, cold temperatures are helping that too and of course for us it only gets this cold generally when it is clear so the sun is glorious right now.  A trade off and one I consider well worth it, I'm sure warmer weather and wetter days are on their way.