A Little Sunshine = A Lot of Growth

Took the weekend off for a little R and R up at some nearby lakes. Came home to walk the vineyard and see what a little sunshine will do in a few days time. Tomorrow we need to pull a few more leaves to allow some of the hidden grape clusters get enough light and air.

Pinot Noir Row K

Row K Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir Row J

Row J Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir Row I

Row I Pinot Noir (front) Chard (rear)

Chardonnay Row H

Chardonnay Row H

Chardonnay Row G

Chardonnay Row G

Chardonnay Row F

Chardonnay Row F “Fred” the owl

Chardonnay Row E

Chardonnay Row E

Chardonnay Row D

Chardonnay Row C

Chardonnay Row C

Chardonnay Row B

Chardonnay Row B

Chardonnay Row A

Chardonnay Row A
Pinot Noir Decoration Vine
View from above

Hot off the Press

Today we pressed our 2019 Harvest of Pinot Noir Precoce – which was picked in September – crushed and destemmed, chaptilized and frozen until we returned from Arizona this late spring.

After thawing and testing the must – we began fermentation on July 1st. By July 7th we went from 23º brix to -2º. Fast. We are not sure if the chaptilization might have anything to do with the rapid fermentation. (Adding sugar to our must because we had to pick before it was totally ripe) … we wonder if maybe the sugar addition is consumed rapidly by the yeast causing a quick fermentation. We will have to ask someone with a higher pay grade!

Today, reaching the -2º brix .. or slightly below 0 residual sugar .. we transferred our must from the fermenters to the wine press. We have a really nifty wine press that really renders every drop and makes clean up a breeze. Thank you Blichmann Engineers for the WineEasy.

Guessing… we thought we would render 16.5 gallons of wine from 28 gallons of must – based on getting 3 gallons of wine from 5 gallons of must last year with someone else’s grapes…. but alas… we got 20 gallons of wine from 28 gallons oF our own must.

You can see clearly that the color is substantially lighter than what one would expect from a Pinot Noir. We intend to go through MLF or secondary fermentation after racking it off the gross lees in 1-2 days.

We are still pleased with the outcome so far. Our numbers are slightly high on acidity 9.6 TA and 3.2 ph – but MLF may help to reduce that.

Pressing July 7, 2020
20 gallons

It’s Wine Time

Yesterday we took our September 2019 harvest of Pinot Noir which had been crushed, destemmed, sO2’d and chaptilized out of deep freeze. We have 28 gallons of wine now defrosted and split between 2 fermenters filled with 14 gallons each. It’s still too cold to inoculate – just 48º so we have the cellar heat on and hope to raise them temperature to 70º in a day or two.

2019 Pinot Noir Harvested 9/27/19 – frozen – unthawed 6/28/20

Next up we plan to measure our brix, ph and ta, make any adjustments needed then begin primary fermentation.

In another vessel we have 3 gallons of Chardonnay which is resting on fine lees – and has been for 6 months that we plan to inoculate with malolactic bacteria and nutrients like acti-malo and opti-malo plus and set into motion 1-3 months of MLF – (malolactic fermentation or secondary fermentation) The purpose of this process is to soften the mouthfeel of the wine by turning the Malic (harsh) acid into Lactic (softer) acid. TMC = too much chemistry!

Just a few of the additives that go into winemaking

In yet another vessel we have 3 gallons of our practice batch of Pinot Noir (grapes purchased from another vineyard which came to us frozen, crushed and destemmed with the correct brix (sugar) ph and acidity .. that wine has been through both primary and secondary fermentation and is soon to be racked and aged one last time before bottling.

Fungicide and Canopy Management

We have read a lot about which fungicide to use against our powdery mildew problem we had last year. Most use sulfur, some use copper. We went to a local nursery and chose something called Liqui-Cop. They thought we would benefit from the ease of use and said it wouldn’t burn the foliage they way sulfur can if put on in hot weather. (Mind you … the weather is not hot here yet). So away we went with a backpack sprayer – it took Ron less than 1 hour to spray our entire vineyard of 48 vines.

On the following day we examined all our vines up close – taking photos of the fruit set on June 1 and noticed two things. 1. It was time to thin the canopy and get rid of lateral shoots, suckers below the cordon, buds with multiple shoots and give the intended vertical growing shoots a chance at proper sunlight and air circulation. Leaving them to flourish on their own would mean more fruit of lesser quality. Hopefully this year they will attain a better degree of brix (sugar content) by harvest time – so we won’t have to interfere with Chaptalization (adding sugar).

2. We noticed 1 plant had an unusual bumps on some of the leaves topside and a scar-like underside. I queried some folks on a home winemaking Facebook page I follow and someone thought it might be Erenium Mites otherwise known as Blister Mites. We removed the damaged leaves on that plant and are not planning any further action. (*Per an article from UC Davis extension) http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/268-532.pdf.

The hardest part of maintaining the vineyard is the task of thinning out the canopy and removing so many shoots that are already showing fruit. It’s heart breaking to spend so many hours cultivating something only to go through and snip away buckets of perfectly healthy shoots with little baby grape sets on them. But this is in fact the best way to cultivate a really healthy vineyard full of fruit that will get enough sunlight and airflow to ripen fully.

Spring 2020 Way Past Bud Break ~

We just returned from our winter and COVID19 quarantine in Arizona. We popped in mid April before bud break and returned a few days ago close to Memorial Day weekend.

The vineyard looks beautiful. Foliage on all the vines. We pulled suckers off on the canes and below the cordons today during our first long look.

Next up we will trim the growth along the cordon back to about a fist apart to ensure we have all the energy of the plants working to nurture the grapes with proper sunlight and airflow.

We also need to to use a fungicide like Thiolux to prevent the powdery mildew we got last year on a few of the Chardonnay. We would have done this sooner but COVID19 had us quarantined in Arizona.

Row A Chardonnay
Row B Chardonnay
Row C Chardonnay
Row D Chardonnay
Row E Chardonnay
Row F Chardonnay
Row G Chardonnay
Row H Chardonnay
Row I Pinot Noir/Chardonnay
Row J Pinot Noir
Row K Pinot Noir
A view from the top
An extra Pinot Noir for decoration