Saturday, August 8, 2009

2009 Vintage Update Coming Soon

I haven't forgot about the updates. It's been a very busy two weeks. I will be posting picture and video as soon as I get it all together. Check back soon!

Friday, July 24, 2009

2009 Merlot Harvest Update: 7/24/2009

In the coming days I will be posting a lengthy narrative, photos, and videos describing the awesome harvest we had yesterday. It was hard, back-breaking work from 4AM until well after midnight. Here's a brief synopsis of the last 24 hours:

1. This harvest could not have been possible without the help of family and friends. Ultimately, God blessed us with great weather and grapes. Let specifically thank all those who came to help:

-Dad and Jim: thank you for believing in this project and the courage to undewrite it, knowing full well that I had no idea what I was doing ;-) May this lead to a larger effort. Thanks for your hard work and organizing the crew and making us more efficient.

-Yoli, my trophy wife: you and your pitchfork saved us from being out into the wee hours of the morning crushing grapes. My wife also performed all testing of the grapes because I had no idea how they worked. She rocks.

-Jane, Shane, Hanker, Ann, Susan, Christian, Campbell, and Calvin: sorters and crushers extraordinaires. Shane and I spend more time than neceesary figuring out the calculations for the yeast. Thanks to Yoli, we were able to get the right measurements.

-My landlord Kevin: thanks for getting the a/c in and helping me with the buildout.

-All: without your help this would not have been possible!

2. We picked up the grapes in Brenham, TX around 6AM and had them at the crushpad by noon. We spent the next eight hours crushing, sorting, and filling the fermenters. From the 3,100 pounds, we ended up approx. 310 gallons of crushed grapes and juice which I divided into three lots. Shane and I inoculated the lots with yeast yesterday around midnight and by this morning (7/24) the tanks were buzzing and a thick cap had formed.

3. Tonight, I ran the final tests and performed the last punchdown. The caps are nice and thick, with lots of ruby color. We began with 22.5 Brix and we were at around 18 Brix as of 11:45PM this evening. Fermentation appears to be strong and things are progressing smoothly. I performed 5 punchdowns today.

4. Thank God we did not get me on film being chased around the vineyard by an agressive bumble bee. It was quite embarassing. Charles, the vineyard manager did a superb job of getting us packed and on our way.

I'm tired. I'll try to get photos and videos up sometime tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harvest Time!

It's time! We will be harvesting this Thursday, July 23, at 6AM. Call me at 713-517-5713 if you would like to help.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vineyard Report #2: 7/19/2008

The latest vineyard metrics are:

Varietal: Merlot
Brix: 21.9
pH: 3.88
TA: 4.3

They're just about ready. Looks like we will be harvesting either this Thursday or Friday. I should know which day by tonight.

If you are interested in helping us out with crush, please call me at 713-517-5713.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vineyard Report: 7/14/2009

We got our first chemistry report from the vineyard:

Varietal: Merlot
Brix: 20.6
pH: 3.8
TA: 6.0

The vineyard owner said the grapes look great!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

SO2: Laffort Effervescent Tablets

Effervescent SO2 ("sulfite") tablets are cool. I bought these packs primarily for SO2 additions in the barrel post fermentation. They are a measured mix of 66.6% potassium metabisulfite and 33.3% potassium bicarbonate and work like Alka Seltzer. I bought both the 2g and 5g size tablets. The 5g tablet is primarily intended for a standard 225L barrel and will yield the desired sulfite content of around 22 ppm. I bought the smaller 2g tablets in order to make minor adjustments if necessary.

Here's the info from the product brochure:
Oenosteryl Effervescent Tablets™ are a blend of potassium metabisulfite and
potassium bicarbonate. They are packaged in 2 g (48/box) and 5 g (48/box) dosage
levels. The effervescent action of the bicarbonate provides mixing in barrels or
small tanks while reducing time and labor needed for stirring. The easy-to-use
tablet form helps prevent overdose problems associated with other forms of SO2
additions. Sealed strip packages keep unused tablets fresh for optimal potency.
Cellar workers and others in the immediate area require no safety equipment
because the tablets are solid and odorless. The potassium bicarbonate fraction
in these tablets has little or no effect on pH.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Malolactic Cultures: MBR VP41

The malolactic cultures arrived cold this morning from Scott Labs. A mix up with the shipping meant I had to be here today for the delivery so that they would not have to sit all day in the 100+ degree Houston heat and get ruined.

We're going with Lalvin's MBR VP41 cultures. After fermentation and pressing, when the wine goes to barrel, we will rehydrate these little guys and pour them directly into the barrel. The dosage is one pack per barrel. MLF will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks depending on the wine's parameters. Here's the info from the product brochure:
Lalvin MBR VP41 was isolated in the Abruzzi region of Italy during an
extensive European Union collaboration for use in red and white wines. MBR VP41
was chosen for its good implantation, steady fermentation, high alcohol
tolerance (up to 15% v/v), enhanced mouthfeel and wine structure. This strain
will ferment well with a pH above 3.2 and total SO2 levels up to 50-60 ppm. In
red wines, increased spicy, cherry and red fruit flavors have been noted. Red
and white wines fermented with MBR VP41 have increased richness and