22 July 2011

Bubbles are in the Bottle

We finally got the sparkling wine bottled this week.  It was far less of a process than I had feared and it is fun to have it in the bottle doing its stuff.  The secondary fermentation should be done in 3 to 6 weeks then I have to figure out how to disgorge the wine to remove the yeast we added and then, finally, it will be ready for sale.  Well, there is the minor issue of a new label and getting it approved but we are working on that.  The process was only slightly more involved then an normal bottling.  It started the day before with me adding sugar to the wine so the yeast would have a food source in the bottle which will create the bubbles.  The bottling itself started with Mary.  She dumped out the glass and then sparged the bottles with nitrogen gas.  Kerrie, our intern, added a set amount of yeast, Rosairo put the bottles on the filler we borrowed from another winery and took them off again.  Next Barry and Guadalupe put a crown seal on the bottles and Sebastian packed them into picking bins so the bottles are laying down for fermentation.  I just stood around and directed and took pictures of course.  The day went very well and it took us about 6 hours to do 200 cases.
Out in the vineyard the sun is mostly shining and our grapes are growing.  It would be nice to get a little more heat but this weekend is supposed to be in the 80s and that will be great.  Here are our clusters: Foch, left and Chard, right.  You can see the little grapes just starting to form and if you look closely at the Foch cluster you can see where Sebastian trimmed off the shoulder, the little side cluster, to help with ripening.
On a side note I will be in southern Oregon next week, a little work and a little vacation so no update.  Mary has promised to take pictures of our clusters so we will not miss a week.  You all have a great week off and I'll write again soon.
Cool Weed
Riley wishing he could drive

15 July 2011

Mid July already but bloom is happening!

Hard to believe it is the 15th already.  I feel like the summer is racing by and it just got here!  We are in the midst of bloom in our vineyard as well as at BeckenRidge Vineyard which I visited on Monday.  The varietals aren't blooming in quite their normal order so it will be interesting to see what happens at harvest.  The Foch is just about done and the Riesling and Chardonnay are nearing 50%.  Pinot noir and Pinot gris are just starting and you have to look in the Gewurztraminer to find a bloom but it will come.  Here are our two clusters, as you can see the Foch is done and the grapes are already starting while the Chard is just finishing bloom and grape formation hasn't really started.
I included a second picture of the Chard cluster so you can see how the next cluster on the shoot hasn't even started yet.  This will lead to ripening differences between the clusters in the fall.  We also started leaf pulling on the Foch, a little difference than cleaning the heads but with the same purpose, to open up the fruiting zone to light, air and the sprayer.  This picture of our marked Foch cluster was taken while Mary was just starting to remove leaves while in the above picture is afterwards.  Big difference from the perspective of the cluster.
The winery is pretty quiet, one good thing that happened is that the last four barrels of Pinot noir finally finished ML so this week they finally got their protective dose of sulfur while I was checking the other barrels.  I feel much more comfortable knowing they are protected.  We are scheduled to bottle the sparkling wine on Tuesday next week and I am very excited about that.  I'll be learning a new process so it should be interesting and hopefully will go smoothly.  You'll get to read all about it, I promise.

06 July 2011

Loving this weather!

And so are the grapes.  Bloom has just started in the Foch and hopefully the rest of the vineyard isn't far behind. Our be-ribboned cluster of Foch hasn't started yet but I took some pictures of clusters starting to bloom so you can see the flowers.  They aren't much to look at but they do smell amazing.  I have to admit that it took me a while to find the Foch cluster this week.  The vine had grown enough to start curling over and the cluster is now tucked in behind some leaves and turned 90 degrees.  But I found it!  So here they are: Foch and Chardonnay

I did end up fining the sparkling base with bentonite on Saturday.  I tasted the fined wines last week and decided that while the lowest level I had tested at fixed the problem it was definitely taking something from the wine.  I ran the test again at an even lower rate and the wine barely passed the test but the flavor was impacted much less so I decided to add the lowest rate and hope for the best.  I don't want to filter the wine an extra time so I am going to try settling it and racking the wine off the bentonite and then sterile bottling it.  My hope is that the bentonite will besettled  well enough to not plug up the bottling filter.  Fingers crossed!

On the home front I filtered some homemade Grand Marnier that I made back in February.  It still isn't very clear and I don't know if I would do it again as I used good brandy and so there was no cost savings but it was fun to experiment.  I used the recipe here but only added about 3/4c of sugar and did add a vanilla bean which I pulled out about a month ago.  I should have pulled the bean a little sooner as the vanilla tends to dominate to flavor but it seems to be mellowing.  I don't have a starting picture, sorry, but here are the three filters I used.  The cheese cloth with the strainer holds most of the zest, then the gold cone and lastly the tea strainer which I used twice.  The liquor isn't great for margaritas, again the vanilla, but I really like it in a Sidecar and a French Connection.