11 June 2011

Almost feels like summer

After last weekend's beautiful weather the vines put on a burst of growth, as did the weeds around my house.  Sebastian our vineyard manager said he measured several shoots on Friday and again Monday and they grew an average of 3".  The vines that is, not the weeds, though I think my weeds might have grown that much too!  The clusters are also starting to grow so you can see where the future grapes will be after bloom.  They look so tiny right now it's hard to believe how much growing they have to do.

On the winery side I was put in touch with the perfect person to discuss lab work with on the sparkling wine.  I called ETS Labs, a California based company that does a lot of lab work for the wine industry and it turns out they have someone who used to work for Moet, the champagne house, and even better she is actually located in Oregon!  So after spending some time of the phone with her we decided what tests needed to be run so that I can be more comfortable that I won't have problems in the bottle during secondary fermentation.  One of the concerns is because of the shift in alcohol that occurs in bottle, wines that were previously stable, especially cold stable, can become unstable and in the case of cold stability crystals can form in the bottle making the yeast beads less effective as well as giving me the added problem of trying to get the crystals out of the bottle.  It also turns out that wines fermented with the yeast beads are at risk of becoming calcium unstable, a problem I have never encountered so I'm not sure what happens other than I am assuming that the calcium forms crystals in the wine similar to the tartaric acid precipitant formed during cold stabilization.

I am still waiting on those results but as I am off on a short road trip next week I went ahead and filtered the wine yesterday so that we can turn off the chilling system.  I don't like having it running while both Mary and I are gone and she is off next week to sell wine in Denver.  For this small volume of wine I decided to use the plate and frame filter that I use for bottling because I think there is a little less oxygen pickup and it might be easier on the wine than the DE filter I usually use for this step.  I used a coarser filter pad than I do for bottling as I was trying to minimize stripping the wine while still making sure I got out all of the cream of tartar I used to seed for cold stability as well as any crystals forming on their own.  Filtering went very smoothly and I could have used fewer pads than I did.  I'll know for next time.  This was the first time the wine has been moved since it went into the this tank for fermentation and the lees were very well settled.  The tan parts are mostly dead yeast bodies mixed with whatever particulates were left from the grapes after the first settling.  The pink layer on top is some of the color falling out on its own and then the lightest pink is the cream of tartar, it started white, which pulled out color along with the tartrates on its way down.   Keeping this wine pink may be difficult, we'll see.
I also attended a Pinot gris conference at Oak Knoll Winery this week.  Everyone who attended brought a bottle of Pinot gris and after spending the morning discussing everything from growing and making the wine to selling and marketing it we tasted through all the wines.  It was great to taste so many next to each other and to be able to compare and contrast different styles of winemaking.  I, of course, would have liked to spend more time on the making part but I think people had some good ideas about how to move Oregon Pinot gris forward as a group making it both more available and understandable to the consumer.  The next step will be trying to implement some of those ideas.

Rocky wants to know "where are you?"
Not much else to report.  As I mentioned above I am gone next week.  My younger brother is graduating from University of Washington in Seattle and is then off to Connecticut to teach at the Coast Guard academy. I offered to help him drive his car, that 1972 BMW I showed a few weeks ago, minus the canoe.  We are leaving Monday and planning on driving across the northern part of the country spending a day at Glacier Park in Montana.  It should be a great trip.  I haven't taken a road trip like this in quite a while and am looking forward to it.  All this boils down to the fact that I probably won't write next week, I'm not taking my computer but I will have my camera and am sure I will have pictures to share when I get back.

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