Blessing of the Grapes

The last day of September and I got to sneak in a little run this morning with my dog Dilly. I didn’t have check any vineyards, or be anywhere until 7:30 or 8:00. As soon as it was light enough to pick grapes, I was out running. Dilly is a German short-hair pointer, and she loves “kitties” (known to you and I as Cats). I keep her on a leash and she doesn’t get to chase kitties, but she loves to see them and maybe give them a little scare. We saw three this morning. I live in a hilly area of Boyes Hot Springs, which is just north of the City of Sonoma.

Then I took off to Andretti, the satellite winery of Laird, where the Bressler’s Merlot is fermenting away. It smells and tastes really good. It’s nice and warm, which helps with the extraction of color.

Then I went over to Laird. They were prepping to top the Sauvignon Blanc barrels, which are just about dry. While they were sanitizing things and getting barrels down off of stacks, I made a trip up to a client. I checked in on the fermentations there, and the temperature of the fermentations, etc. Then I went back down to Laird for the topping. We made a small SO2 addition, and I wanted to use specific barrels for specific lots, so it was good to be there.

After that, I went to another client down in Coombsville area, the Palmaz Winery. They were crushing Merlot, their first red grapes of this harvest. To celebrate, they had a taco truck come up. Everyone was there, the owners, the pickers, all the workers, the winemaker Tina Mitchell, Mike Wolf who also consults on their vineyards. We all enjoyed the tacos and cokes. They had a nice blessing of the grapes ceremony that we all took part in, then proceeded to crush their Merlot. It looks like really good stuff. They have another Merlot vineyard that will probably be ready next week, and maybe one of their earlier Cabernet vineyards will be ready next week. Everything else looks like it may stage the following week. Tina and I will do an extensive walk in the vineyards early next week to see how things are lining up. They have a really nice facility at Palmaz. Miles and miles of caves, with many levels, since it’s set up as a gravity winery. They have their sorting table and crusher set up at the top, so the grapes just drop into the fermenters below. They have an opportunity to do a lot of sorting, and I think it works really well for them. As I said, the grapes look really good.

Then a quick run back to Laird. They had finished the topping on the first lot of Sauvignon Blanc and were working on the second lot. I had a chance to taste the lees from the couple of barrels that they used for topping. They taste really sweet and wonderful. It’s something I definitely look for, because lees contact is one of the important things for mouth feel and flavor for my Sauvignon Blanc. It’s nice when the lees are very tasty and not getting stinky.

While I was organizing things at the winery for the Merlot and Cab Franc pick tomorrow, Jim Frediani called and said we might have a little less that we thought, since they picked from the same block of Cab Franc today and got a little less than he thought. I worked with Chris Benz, at Laird on what tank we want to use, since we want to maximize tank usage. We don’t want to put 10 tons of grapes in a 14-ton fermenter. Especially in a year like this when everything is coming in heavier than some people expect. We will probably hit a lot of Bordeaux varieties at once, so there will be a need for good use of all the tanks.

The SB topping finished up nicely. We have lots of full barrels and about a 15-gallon keg of topping wine left over. We are ready to pick tomorrow. Jim already picked up the Selene picking bins.

I am hoping to make it to a little Birria (special Mexican recipe for baby goat) party tomorrow at Hyde Vineyards. It’s their celebration for being half way through harvest. All the pickers and the workers involved at Hyde, along with some of the wineries that buy grapes, will be there. Obviously my pick is the most important thing, so depending on how quickly we get it done, and get everything crushed at Laird, will dictate if I can attend.

I got to have a little fun this morning and again late this afternoon, when I finished up. I stopped by a bike shop, and ordered all the parts I need to finish transforming Tracy’s old bike into my fixed gear bike. I took baby steps into getting there, but some of the technical stuff was out of line. Now that I know I like it, I really needed to get serious and order the right parts and some tools to put it together. They should arrive next week, so sometime maybe soon I’ll have a chance to work on it.