26 August 2011

Tasting pinots and enjoying the weather!

This week has been a spectacular ripening week.  Just about as hot as it can be without being so hot it shuts the vines down.  Perfect!  It will help us continue to catch up to a more 'normal' year, whatever that is!  Our grapes are coming along nicely and the little bit of spotting you can see is a touch of sunburn.   Here are our clusters:

I did taste through the treated pinots last week and was really interested to see what effect the various compounds had.  They all had an effect but not all had a positive effect, which in some ways was a good thing because it helped narrow down my choices to experiment with further.  So after choosing my top five treatments I made up the treatments up again in larger bottles so that I could measure the additions more accurately, let them sit a few days and then made up blends of all the barrels of pinot substituting the treated wines for the barrel that I am experimenting with.  So I have 6 wines to taste: one that is all the barrels blended with no treatments, my control, and then five blends each with one of the treatments substituting for the experimental barrel.  At this point I have not treated the experimental barrel but after this tasting I hope to be able to treat that barrel.  In these blends I am only effecting 7% of the blend so I am curious to see how obvious the treatments are in the final blends.  A few friends/customers are coming up this evening to taste with us and I am looking to see what they think not only of the treatments but of the wines in general.
In other news, I went to an Oregon Wine Research Institute conference yesterday in Corvallis at OSU.  It was educational as always as well as a chance to catch up with some friends and students.  I really enjoyed that we had an entomologist and a financier both speak and they brought some new thoughts to the conference including some highly controversial ones!  Usually we only get viticulturalists, food science or fermentation science students and professors, which should be more applicable but not always.  I think sometimes the presenters forget they are talking to farmers and winemakers who are not necessarily scientists or chemists.

On a personal note, my first nephew (on my side of the family) was born this morning!  
Congrats to my brother and his wife, I wish them all the best.

19 August 2011

Tweaking the pinot trials

The weather this week has been wonderful and we are supposed to get another few days of it at least.  Looking at some cloudy, hot days coming up which is not ideal as the humidity tends to promote the growth of powdery mildew.  However our vines have been looking clean and Sebastian sprayed earlier in the week so we should be well protected.  Mary and I walked the vineyard on Wednesday and the grapes are just entering seed hardening which some varietals being further along than others.  What concerned me more was the variation between vines.  Two plants right next two each other could appear to be two or three weeks apart in the worst cases and this could give us problems at harvest if the lagging vines do not catch up.  One option might be that at veraison, when the grapes start to change color, that we will cut off the lagging fruit so that it doesn't effect the ripeness of the juice when everything is picked at harvest.  But for now here are this weeks cluster pics.
In the winery I did set up the fining trials but at the writing of this I haven't tasted through them.  That's next on my list.  On Wednesday I visited Jerry at Van Duzer Winery and he gave me a few more products to try so I will be setting those up as well.  I know most products will not have the effect I am looking for but it is a good chance for me to learn what they might do to a wine, building my list of tools for the future.  I'll let you know which ones work out, if any.  Then it will be on to the next step, how does a treated barrel effect the whole blend.

12 August 2011

Puttering around the winery.

In the vineyard the crew has returned from leaf pulling at Emerson and BeckenRidge and is now tucking the vines and opening up the fruiting zone a little more.  We were unable to tuck before because the vines were to fragile and moving them around that much could easily break them.  The vines have started to harden now and so shifting them is easier.  We tuck the vines behind a catch wire so that they can't grow across the rows and grab onto their neighbor, creating a mess for humans and tractor alike.  Our clusters are continuing to grow and I am curious to see when they will enter lag phase.  Lag phase is when the grapes temporarily stop growing in size and instead continue to develop on the inside, another name for this time is seed hardening.  Normally this occurs 40 - 50 days after bloom but we don't have much time left in the summer so I hoping to see it occur earlier.  Here are this weeks pictures.

It has been a quiet week here at the winery.  I tasted through all the barrels and am happy with where the wines are heading.  Based on what I tasted and some of the comments from the Steamboat conference I am going to set up a few trials so see if I can tweak some of the barrels to make the whole blend better.  One of the disadvantages to such a small harvest is that each barrel is a significant contributor to the overall blend.   This also means that subtly changing one barrel can impact the blend so I have to make sure that if I decide my tweaking of a barrel makes the barrel better I also have to check to see if it makes the final blend better.  I'll start the process by looking at a few products, both fining agents such as egg whites, casein (milk product) and isinglass as well as some additive products such as grape seed or skin tannins or even oak tannins.  All of these products will effect mouth feel and some will effect flavor and aroma.  My goal is to make a better wine while still remaining true to the vintage and what nature gave me.  I have found some products that make a lovely, round and pretty wine that tastes just like the next lovely, round and pretty wine which was treated with the same product.  In a recent tasting I was surprised by one such product that when added to 5 wines from 5 winemakers it made all the wines taste about the same.  There were still subtle differences but much of what had made the wines unique was gone.  This to me is not an improvement and something I tend to avoid.  Okay, I'll get off my soap box now, or maybe I should say wine box.

I've also been working on updating our listing on Yelp and getting us a listing on TripAdvisor.  If you use Yelp  feel free to head over and give us a boost in our social network standing!  We don't have a listing yet on TripAdvisor but I have my fingers crossed.  All part of learning how to navigate a small business in this new world of social media.  Which is why you can now read this on our facebook page as well as my blog page.  Though I've noticed the formatting isn't as nice on FB.  So if you want to see the pictures in their proper places you actually have to come over to blogger.
The lights are hung, the dance floor is swept and the campers are arriving!  Starry Starry Nite here we come.  Don't know what I am talking about?  Visit our website and check it out!

05 August 2011

The grapes are growing. Yeah!

Being away for a week certainly allowed me to see the change in the vineyard and the vines are coming along nicely.  All the beautiful weather is perfect for them and I'm even happy with the cool nights.  And look our cool weed from two weeks ago is blooming.  Very strange.  Mary took pictures for us as promised and so I get to show two weeks of growth.  The first set of pictures is from Mary and the second set from me, today.  As per usual, Foch is on the left.
We are just entering the phase of growth called 'bunch closure' and it's just what it sounds like.  The grapes are starting to touch and close up the bunch.  This is our last chance to get a spray to actually penetrate the cluster to the stem, it is important to get mildewcide to the center of the cluster to combat powder mildew later in the season.

I spent last week working and playing in Southern Oregon and had a great time.  There is an annual 3 day conference for winemakers at the Steamboat Inn on the South Umpqua just outside of Roseberg.  If you enjoy the outdoors, fly fishing, good food and wine, and relaxing or any of the above I highly recommend the inn.  There are a variety of cabins, cottages and houses and in the spring they do winemaker dinners with guest chefs, yum!  So back to the conference: about 60 or 70 of us come together with our wines in tow, problems and all, to taste, talk, share and help.  Of course there is great food and even more wine involved too so what is not to like.  The format is that we spend the mornings tasting each other's wine blind and then as the wines are revealed the respective winemaker gets up and talks about what he did and what he needs help on.  Then the afternoons are spent relaxing, talking and enjoying the area.  This year was a little cool for swimming but perfect for croquet.  As per usual for me I didn't recognize my wine, some people are great at that, and it didn't show the problem I had brought it for.  I'm sure if it had I would have picked it out . . . maybe.  I did get plenty of advice and opinions and am looking forward to spending the next month and a half before we bottle experimenting.

My husband joined me on Wednesday and we spent the rest of the week relaxing and enjoying the area.  We had a lovely if short hike up to the Twin Lakes where we found out Chad is much preferred by the mosquitoes over me, another disadvantage to the cooler weather.  On the up side though the wild flowers were beautiful.  We drove home via the coast and watched the temperature drop 25 degrees as we went over the coastal range.  Nothing like a few hills combined with the ocean to impact the weather.