29 April 2011

Sparkling wine here we come!

I started this week off with a quick trip up to Amity Vineyards to ask Myron and Darcy to taste my white wines which I am prepping to bottle and to borrow a small lab filter to start this sparking wine experiment.  I think getting feedback from others on my wines is great.  New palates often notice things and have new ideas on how a wine might be better and sometimes they just say great job, which is always good to hear.  The view from Amity is great and on a clear day you can see through the Van Duzer corridor and get a feel for the weather on the coast.  However it was a misty rainy day on Monday so I couldn't get a picture of the full effect you'll just have to stop by and see for yourself.  And of course drink some lovely wines.

Back to sparkling wine experimentation.  Last week, as I'm sure all you loyal readers know, I put 5 bottles of the sparkling base in the fridge to cold stabilize which it did very nicely.  I also made up a very strong sugar/wine solution to be my fermentation liquor so that the new yeast would have a food source, the small flask in the background.  That went in the fridge as well.  Finally yesterday my yeast showed up.  I was very excited.  I have never worked with yeast beads before or even seen them.  The beads are made up of an alginate skin that traps the yeast cells inside while still allowing the wine/juice to flow through.  Traditionalists are scoffing at me as they read I am sure but the great advantage for me with the beads is that the riddling step is removed.  Because the yeast is trapped the wine never gets cloudy and when it is time to disgorge the wine, remove the spent yeast, the beads just roll to the neck and the process continues from there.  

Part of my experiment is to find out how much sugar I need to add to the wine to get the right amount of bubbles.  The next part, in a few weeks, is to figure out how much sugar to add to the wine to bring it in the balance for drinking, but more on that later.  So back to yesterday.  I used the nifty lab filter I borrowed from Amity to filter my 5 bottles of sparkling base, transferred the wine to the champagne bottles, added the sugar solution at varying levels and the yeast beads.  Finally I put a crown cap on the bottles, set them in front of the heater for a little while to help warm the wine up so the yeast don't have to work as hard and set them in a box to ferment.  It is supposed to take 3 - 6 weeks but I have no idea how to tell when the fermentation is over in the bottle.  I don't know if you can tell without opening a bottle.  Steep learning curve here.  Wish me luck! I threw in the picture of the used pads so you can see the tartrates I filtered out also some of the color I lost too. Another decision I will have to make, pink or white? Any thoughts?
Also ran a few aspirations, have to keep an eye on those reds in barrel while messing with my new project don't you know.

And, just to keep you updated on the house, more of the floor went in and I am loving the color.  Watching the cats slip and slide on it is very entertaining as well.  Apparently newly waxed wood floors are much slipperier than linoleum.  The hall way used to be carpeted and was their racing strip, the floors have definitely thrown a wrench in that pastime. The washer and dryer are back in their homes and we just have one room left, 8 more boxes to go!  Hope to be done this weekend.  Fingers crossed.  Don't mention all the trim that needs to be painted and put back on please!

21 April 2011

The sun is shinning and I've been busy

Like Us!
First I want to say thank you to everyone who responded, it made my decision on what to do much easier and briefly the blog will stay here and you can click on the pictures if you like.  I have also added the blog to our Facebook page if that is easier for you, it will show up on Airlie's Facebook Page and an excerpt will be on the Airlie Winery website that will lead you here.  Be sure to check out our new website and thank you again.  Now back to what else I have been doing.  The last few days have been beautiful.  I love the longer days and I even find getting up in the morning easier.  The downside to these clear days is the cold nights but so far no hard frost and the buds are just barely showing so they should be safe for a little while longer.  Our trusty Chard vine is ready to go and you can see the buds swelling on the closeup.

I am sorry I didn't write last week but I was actually quite busy.  I attended a very good seminar on sulfide production in wine up in Portland on the same day that the wine was loaded onto the container for Japan.  I left my camera with Mary so you get to see how full the container was in the end.

Madrona Tree
On Friday Mary and I attended the annual LIVE meeting.  The meeting is a great chance to catch up with peers, learn about various problems or new processes and enjoy a nice lunch.  This year the meeting was held at the NW Viticulture Center in Salem, what a great venue and very apt for a group of grape growers to get together and share information.  The only comment I have to add is that I am ashamed more of my fellow winemakers were not in attendance.  I'll have to get on them next year.  For those of you unfamiliar with LIVE it stands for Low Input Viticulture and Enology and is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing vineyards and wineries with both education and certification of sustainable practices.  The vineyard and the winery are certified separately and in our case only the vineyard is certified though we wouldn't have any problem passing the winery.  If you would like to read more about LIVE, click here.
So this week on Monday Mary and I received a Facebook lesson, ergo all the recent activity if you are a Facebook follower, be sure to like us if you are not!  This morning I linked this blog to the account so as I said you can also catch up with me there.  Have to try and keep up with the social media stuff you know.  So the reason the blog will not be moving is that I found the new web design program too frustrating to work with so while I will post an excerpt at www.airliewinery.com the main article will still be here.  I know you are relieved Wade, remember to keep clicking on the pictures!

Moving on.  Tuesday I drove down to Sweet Cheeks Winery which is just southwest of Eugene.  What a beautiful day for a drive and a lovely winery.  I'll just tantalize you with a shot of the gate.  I went down to pick Mark Nicholl's brain, he is the winemaker there, about how to make sparkling wine and I'm glad I did.  Not only did he have some great ideas but he has gotten me motivated to work on it.  I think I was feeling a bit intimidated and overwhelmed.  Mark pointed out a few experiments which would be easy since I am using encapsulated yeast.  Encapsulated yeast is what it sounds like, instead of being loose the yeast is trapped in 2mm alginate beads which allow the wine to flow through but not the yeast particlaes.  This type of yeast takes out both the growing up the yeast culture step, the beads are a direct innoculum, and the riddling step, where all the yeast is worked down into the neck of the bottle prior to disgorging.  So yesterday I put a few bottles in the freezer/fridge to cold stabilize them and next week I'll make up a few bottles of bubbles varying the amount of yeast and sugar in order to see how much of each I need to create the perfect amount of fizz.  More details to follow.  (After I figure them out myself!)
So this brings me to today.  We were able to obtain the necessary glass for bottling so that should show up any day now and then I can get the other white wines out of tank in to bottle.  I always feel much better when bottling is over.  So I need to run lab work on all the whites, make sure I am happy that they are the best they can be and maybe next week get them in bottle.  Provided of course the glass shows up.

And in case you thought I hadn't been quite busy enough to get out of writing we have been painting at home, the office got painted three more times and is on the docket for tonight.  Please let this be the right color!  The front room got painted three times and that is now the right color.  We went from nursery yellow, very cheerful but didn't suit the house to Dijon mustard jar yellow, the walls were closing in - let me out! - to a very subtle gray green that is going to make my mother's artwork pop on the walls, after we get the rest of the flooring in.  Yes we finally started laying the kitchen floor over the weekend and it looks great!  Last night we put in another three hours, no updated picture but we are past the fridge and to the pantry door and now need to rip up carpet.  So you know what I'll be doing this weekend, ripping up carpet and laying more floor.  Feel free to stop by and provide entertainment, Advil or alcohol depending on your temperament.  We'll be home!

06 April 2011

Please Comment 'Yes' or 'No'

Our new website is about to go live and to be honest I am having a difficult time with the new editor.  It is not really designed for what I am trying to do here but I am going to work with it for a while.  One of the features I really don't like is how difficult it is to manipulate pictures.  Now for me a big part of what I enjoy about  posting is sharing pictures of what I am seeing around the winery.  So my question is this and I really would like a response, just yes or no is fine: Do you click on the pictures to expand them?  I realize no one would click on all of them but do you ever click on any of them.  The reason I ask is the new editor does not seem to allow the image to be expanded so I have to figure out how to do it.  I am sure there are work arounds (is that a word?) such as making a picture a link back to Picasa and when you click on it it will load the picture from there.  Part of the problem is that I don't know how to add links yet with the new editor, another thing that did not seem  intuitive the last time I tried working with the editor.  The last interesting thing I have run into is that I can't center a picture.  This seems very strange to me.  So the editor I am using is called Textpattern and any help, advice, links, etc would be much appreciated.  And if you know how to preview a page before it goes live please let me know.  Thanks.  And of course I need your response of yes or no so I know if all this hassle is even worth it.

So back to the winery.  I didn't write last week because I basically sat at my desk and wrote thank you cards to all the people who took the time to meet with me on my trip.  And if any of you are reading this, thank you one more time.  I did have an interesting time on Friday walking the vineyard with a soil specialist from Oregon Vineyard Supply.  He was pulling samples from various blocks around the vineyard and in about a week we should get an analysis of the soil samples.  Hopefully it will help us to better treat the various areas especially one section in the 'new' Foch where the vines are consistently thinner than the surrounding area and there is usually less fruit.  The sun was out for the first time this spring I think and so it was a great way to spend the day.  Our winery cat, Bob of the broken leg, was taken full advantage of it and the empty dog bed!  Just the right amount of sun please.

This week I have been catching up on lab work, checking SO2 levels and pHs, tasting through all the barrels and now I just have topping left.  I took the wines home this time in order to better evaluate them and am pretty happy.  I am surprised at how much variation there is in the different lots right now, disregarding the four barrels that still haven't finished ML.  I checked them this week too and on paper they still aren't done.  Three of the four actually taste very close but one is still quite tart.  I also tasted through the 2009 Reserve Pinot barrels.  Those are tasting lovely.  I am looking forward to putting them together in the fall and watching them develop.

The big new for this week and what we spent yesterday working on is getting eight pallets of wine, thats 448 cases or 5,376 bottles, ready to ship to Japan.  Yes, we are going international!  And it is all due to Barry's hard work.  I think this has been in the works for close to 2 years and then to have the catastrophe happen last month in Japan I thought that might put the whole thing on hold again but fortunately no and maybe the wine will raise a few peoples spirits.  The container going over will also contain wine from Belle Vallee, Viridian, Jigsaw and a winery from California (I'm not being a snob I don't know the name).  We agreed to be the staging area so yesterday was spent receiving all the Oregon wines and getting them ready to be shipped.  They each had to be repacked on a pallet which had been specially fumigated for export and then each case labeled with a sticker printed with the export company's name; From Oregon with Love.  How great is that!
Everything is to be loaded into a climate controlled container on Friday and then it is off the Seattle and then Japan.  Maybe one of will get a trip out of this, hint, hint.  Though even I have to admit that it is probably Barry who should go.

 More painting.  Chad decided he wanted a green office, I think it came out great.

Remember, please, comment yes or no.

Ferb is watching . . .