Archive for the 'Fermentation' Category


Freshly-settled pinot gris brightens one corner of the basementFor the first time in a dozen years, a white wine is brightening the basement: Pinot Gris from Oracle Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. After pressing and letting it settle for a day, I took a halogen shop light and lit the side of the fermenter to see where the lees-line was (“lees” being the skunge the precipitates out of a wine after fermentation). Man, bask in that warm, golden color: I plan to bring this photo up every time I need a hit of vitamin D through the long, dark Oregon winter.

No comments

Dawdling Merlot

I’m a little worried about our Merlot, which now appears to be on its hands and knees crawling toward the completion of fermentation.

It’s generally gone through a longer, cooler ferment to (perhaps) retain more of its fruity essence, peaking in the low 70s early on in the ferment. So I suppose you could say it never got a head of steam, and now there’s little momentum to carry the yeasts through the fog of alcohol they’ve created by consuming all that sugar. In addition, wild yeasts got this party started, so there’s no guarantee we have sturdy specimens in there to grab the reins and save the day.

So this afternoon, I zipped home to wrap both fermenters in an electric, heated mattress pad, to see if a little temperature will coax the yeasts out of their stupor. If I haven’t waited too long already, I’m reasonably confident that will work, but if it doesn’t, we’ll have to beg some crude, tough-guy yeasts to finish the job. Their specialty isn’t subtlety, but we’ll be in no position to argue.

No comments

Pinot picked

The Dundee Hills, early morning in mid-OctoberToday I drove out to the Dundee Hills and Oracle Vineyard to pick up our Pinot Gris. It was a beautiful but bone-chillingly cold morning, as co-owner Amy confirmed when I got there, wrapped in all the clothes she could find and still freezing. By the time I left, the sun had started to break out of the clouds (perhaps for one last encore before heading south for the winter), Amy was finally warming up, and we had all our fruit in hand for 2009. That makes me one relieved Garagiste.

Now that the Gris has been processed, we have 7 wines downstairs in various stages of completion, from the Syrah which we’ll probably press Tuesday, to the Cabernet which isn’t even thinking about fermenting yet.

No comments

Syrah notes

We picked up our Syrah at the same time we did our Merlot, but as you might remember, we let the Syrah determine the pick date and let the Merlot fall where it might. That decision ultimately showed up in the flavor (more backbone and structure), but of course, in the numbers, too…
Read more

No comments

The Merlot-down

Ah, Merlot, you corpulent, shar-pei of a wine, you. Despised by many, tolerated by few, I alone sense your inner beauty, your generosity of fruit, your gentle tannins…

… but this? 27.5 brix? 4.02 pH?! Girl, how could you?!

Oh, well. Nothing a tummy tuck and boob job can’t fix. Follow along with me as we do the merlot numbers…
Read more

No comments

Fermentation begins

Looking over Sam’s shoulder as he was beginning to punch down just now, the Merlot is showing a telltale mini-cap rising toward one edge of the fermenter. And on closer look, there are a few bubbles popping through every now and then.

Thus fermentation begins for 2009!

No comments

UPDATE: Final crush next weekend

rent a car bulgaria
Just heard from our second grower with an update: sugars are starting to eek into the right range (22.5 – 23.5), but the acids are still high enough that the whole package is simply out of balance. So it’s only time to pick if we have no other alternative, but for now, it looks like we do — no major storms appear to be coming, and no severe frosts are predicted. The grower’s still leery of frost, but feels confident the grapes will make it to next weekend.

By that time, the fruit will have hung another week, cinching up those sugars (though not too much, since it’ll be relatively cool), and bringing acids down to levels we can deal with. With luck, that may actually get us ideal fruit: sugars in the 24-25 range focused by just the right amount of acidity, and true physiological ripeness. We got syrah pretty much at the peak; let’s hope we can make it 3 out of 4.

No comments

« Previous PageNext Page »