Syrah begins its journey

lovely syrah grapes, just waiting for the fermenterYesterday morning there were the faintest signs of life: the odd bubble here and there, the islands of grape skins slightly more pronounced than before (or were they?). Now the stuff’s going full throttle, right up to the rim of the fermenter.

The syrah came in with pretty nice numbers, spot-on sugars and pretty good pH. I’ve already added a dash of acid to bring that pH down into more comfortable territory, but all the building blocks are already there: the fruit tasted at perfect ripeness out in the field — maybe the most spot-on I’ve ever tasted in our winemaking — and it hasn’t changed in the winery, either. This looks to be a stellar syrah year if we don’t screw it up.

For fun, to increase flavor for what remained, and to sneak a little more space into the fermenter, I also bled out 10 gallons of syrah juice 24 hours after crush — a technique which also the traditional way to make rosé. I see now I should have done it maybe 3-4 hours afterwards, however, since the color is more garnet than rose, but if we can ride its fermentation to the ground without crashing, that should also make it a mighty flavorful summer quaffer. It’s currently a little stinky (something David and Amy of Westrey warned me about), but I’ll hit it with some nutrient and if that doesn’t improve matters, a little copper should have it seeing things our way.

But man, you should smell it: there’s a rich, deep sweetness to the must (since it’s only just begun to convert sugar to alcohol), laced with smokiness and a whiff of leather. Can’t wait to see it at press in a week or so.

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An idle threat

American Blog Awards voting ends at midnight tonight (March 28th), so if you’ve enjoyed reading our scrappy little blog, please consider throwing a vote toward our quixotic quest for “Best Overall Wine Blog.”

Do it, or we’ll drink this wine. Oh. Okay, do it or we’ll drink this other wine. Uh…

Here’s the ballot. Thanks!

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It’s Oscar time… for wine blogs

Don’t tell Joan Rivers, but she’ll be snarking the wrong Oscars tonight: the much more prestigious and important event is the Oscars of the wine blogging world – the American Wine Blog Awards – now taking nominations until February 27th.

Generously wrangled by Tom Wark at his excellent Fermentation blog, the Awards celebrate the apogee of inspiration across eight different categories, including (oh, to pick a few at random – ahem) “Best Winery Blog,” “Best Wine Blog Writing”, and “Best Wine Blog Graphics.”

Now, it goes without saying that we’d be flattered and humbled if you nominated our efforts here, but there’s a lot of great wine blog action there, so now’s the time to show you favorites some love. A great place to start, actually, is our list of Wine Links at right.

But should you be so moved, you can nominate us here. There, in the right column, you’ll find a list of categories: just click the one in which you want to nominate us, and then post a comment with your vote and our URL (

Again nominations close February 27th, so pull that black party dress out of the closet and limo on over to Fermentation. Thanks as always for your support!

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Fermentation has begun!

Whit and I checked the Merlot late last night and it looks like we have ignition! The cap was just tentatively beginning to rise, and when Whit punched it down, the yeasts bubbled happily through the grape goo.

Then, this morning, I checked the Franc to discover that it has also decided to follow in its brother’s footsteps, so we’re firing on both cylinders. That means a steady regimen of punching down the cap, keeping track of sugar levels and temperature, and coming home every day to a house filled with beautiful fragrance.

Life is good!

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