Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon

Approximately twice a month, winemaker Peter Wellington (Wine.Woot username SonomaBouliste) of Wellington Vineyards shares his musings on the vinting life in this space.

Sixteen, er Eighteen, Tons and What Do You Get?     Weds. Oct 10, 2007

After our huge day Friday we decided, more or less on the spur of the moment, to do it again Monday (only an even more difficult day).  We did a little bit of pressing on Saturday, and then a huge amount (14 tons of red grapes’ worth) on Monday.   We only had one four ton block of Zinfandel scheduled for crushing (could have been picked Thursday, Friday or Saturday, but the vineyard manager wasn’t available).  When the vineyard owner came to get our pickup truck at 7 A.M. Monday, he asked if there was any possibility that his other remaining block was ready.  I told him I didn’t think so, but that I’d rush over and check before the crew finished picking.  It was 24.2ºB going on 27*, still a tiny bit tart, seeds still green, but had ripe flavor (nice raspberry, strawberry, guava fruit – no greenness).  There was some rot in this last block and it was going to go to Hell in a hand basket with Tuesday’s rain, so we decided the best thing was to pick (as it was, we ended up culling 400 lbs. out of 3.3 tons).  About 9 AM I got a call from a Cabernet grower with whom I had left phone messages on Saturday and Sunday regarding a Tuesday pick.  We ended up bringing that in Monday as well, and the anticipated 8 tons of Cab became 9.5 tons, for a day’s total of 18.  Four of us ended up working 14 hours; the other two had family commitments that kept their days to 11 & 12 hours.  Once again, all the tanks were full.  A little more pressing and crushing Tuesday, pressing today and tomorrow will give us space for close to half our remaining fruit (and almost all of what is ripe and ready).

Today was slower for me – a chance to catch up on mail & bills and write this.  The shock of the day was paying over $1000 apiece for barrels for the first time (euros selling for $1.44).

* Zinfandel will often have a number of shriveled berries on a cluster before the rest of the berries are ripe.  These will contribute their concentrated sugar to the must (crushed grapes) over a period of days, and can take the overall sugar level from 24 or 25ºB to over 30º in some cases.  This is why you see a lot of Zinfandels with high alcohol levels, and some with both high alcohol and residual sugar.  I think a rich Zin can handle more alcohol than a more tannic wine like Cabernet, but only to a point, and I also want my wines to go dry.  To this end, we cold soak Zin for two or three days to get a better idea of the true sugar level, then bleed off juice for our rosé and replace it with water.
 

Caught Red Handed   Sun., Oct. 14, 2007


With lots of punchdowns, pumpovers and pressing my hands regularly come in contact with young red wine, staining them purple/red/black.  I’ve even had people ask me if I’m an automobile mechanic.  The best comment, however, came from a (grapegrower) friend’s son when he was about 14 years old.  Emile asked what happened to my hands, and I told him it was from red wine.  He pondered this for a moment and responded, “Man, you gotta stop drinking so much”.

What else would farmers talk about if we couldn’t talk about the weather?  An inch of rain Wednesday, another inch Friday, and a forecast of more rain and cool weather for the coming week has forced our hand a little bit.  We (and several other wineries) are bringing in Roussanne from Saralee’s Vineyard tomorrow.  It’s very susceptible to bunch rot and the risk at this point of letting it hang far outweighs any potential benefit.  BTW – Saralee Kunde is one of the most wonderful growers with whom to do business.  She’s got 16 wine grape varieties and sells to dozens of wineries, but everybody gets personal attention as if they were the only client.  It’s true, nobody doesn’t like Saralee!  We’ll do white port tomorrow as well, and probably pick for our Noir de Noirs on Tuesday (weather permitting).  All that’ll be left after that is the Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet sauvignon, which could really benefit from another week plus of sun, even if temperatures stay low.  Cabernet in general, and this vineyard in particular, is not highly susceptible to bunch rot, mainly because of very loose clusters.  We’re extremely lucky that we had an early bloom and therefore an early start to harvest.  Since the end of the first week of September fall weather patterns have been a month ahead of normal – October-like in September and November-like in October.  If we had been on an average schedule instead of early this year it would have been a disaster.  I feel fortunate to have almost everything in the barn, and am very happy with quality so far.  I think it’s going to be an “UnParker” year; many folks in the Napa Valley who were hoping for überripeness aren’t going to get it in 2007.
 

He’s Drinking Cab, I’m Drinking Zin, and We’re Lost in the Ozone Again  Mon., Oct. 22, 2007

Lovely Winefarm came by a couple of weeks ago to pick up a load of pomace (pressed grapes) for her garden compost.  WD came along for the ride, and, inquisitive as usual, asked about the buzzing stainless steel box hooked up to a water hose.  The ozone generator has become a fairly common piece of winery equipment over the last ten plus years.  It is used for sterilizing equipment, hoses, floors and drains, and even oak barrels.  It has by and large replaced chlorine, which has some serious drawbacks, the biggest being the risk of cork taint type compounds.  Certain molds can produce 2,4,6 trichloroanisole (TCA) and related compounds when they grow in the presence of chlorine.  (Chlorinated processing water and organochlorine insecticides have both been implicated in the formation of cork taint.)  Cellar taint can occur when mold grows in drains with chlorine residue or on wood treated with preservatives such as the now banned Pentachlor.  Several wineries have had to gut their aging facilities due to cellar taint.  I find it more than ironic that James Laube of the Wine Spectator, claiming exceptional sensitivity to TCA, “outed” Beaulieu Vineyards’ cellar taint problem a few years ago, when not long before that he was bestowing high ratings on a very prestigious winery’s Cabs that had way more obvious taint problems.  Must be the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome;-).  Ozonated water leaves no residue, poses minimal health hazard, won’t burn holes in your clothes, smells like the air during an electrical storm, and I know it works because it does burn a bit when it gets into an open cut.

Back to crush news:  We had everything except the Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet harvested by last Tuesday.  The Cab survived two inches of rain the week of Oct. 8 in great shape, and I decided to let it hang through some cool, drizzly days last week because of the promise of dry, warm to hot weather this week.  It was 80º yesterday and today, and could be warmer tomorrow and Wednesday.  The Cab was “acceptably”, but not optimally, ripe last week and I’m confident these few warm sunny days will soften the acid and tannins a bit more and intensify the cherry-blueberry flavors.  I just this minute got a call from the grower, and harvest is confirmed for Thursday.  Things have slowed down to the point where we can start checking on wines in barrel, testing for residual sugar and malic acid.  If both primary and malolactic fermentation are complete we can add a bit of SO2, top barrels up completely, and seal them tightly, all of which protect against formation of VA (volatile acidity or vinegar).  After pressing two tanks today we only have two open top tanks to punch down, and four closed top tanks waiting to be pressed.  We’ll press the last tank of Syrah tomorrow and the last tank of Zin on Wednesday.  They’ll both get refilled with Cabernet on Thursday, along with one of our other two large empty tanks.

Now is when the fatigue sets in.  We don’t have the adrenaline of full on crush anymore, and even though we aren’t working nearly as many hours, it’s more exhausting.  Tomorrow I’ll give another safety talk to address this and stress vigilance and attention to detail.  Now is when we’re at greatest peril of wine spills or injury because we’re more inclined to operate on “autopilot”.


Lighter


quality posts: 10 Private Messages Lighter

Is wine making like other agra business in that you must have a close and personal relationship with your friendly, local banker? The price of one barrel just did a gasp from me.

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer

always great reading. so nice to get this involved.

signed.

polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22

Peter - great information. Love the humor.

Having visited your winery, this is so much fun. I can picture in my head, the tanks, the pomace, etc. Can't imagine how you pull all this off in that space. Lots of activity going on.

Hope you get to relax a little soon.

Polar bears are meant to be clever, very clever. They are the Einsteins of the bear community. - Anonymous
Please donate to the 2014 MS Bike Ride
Want to read what SonomaBouliste has to say about wine?
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Corrado


quality posts: 130 Private Messages Corrado

Volunteer Moderator

Any repiratory complaints from workers around the ozone machine? My wife & I got a pair for our home years ago as 'air purifiers' and we both noticed a rapid onset of chest congestion and a few other symptoms that, after some googling, turned out be fairly common responses to the 'safe, heathy benefits' of home ozone generators (btw, they did make the place smell wonderful!).


The cost per barrel doesn't surprise me. This past week a friend was lamenting the rapidly increasing price of singlemalt scotch which led me to check the internation exchange rates (http://www.xe.com/). I was shocked to find that in the past 5 years, the dollar has lost +25% to the Euro and the GBP. In 2002, the Euro & Dollar were pretty much 1:1 and the Dollar:Pound was about 1.5:1. Now it takes $1.44 to buy a single Euro and $2.05 to buy a single pound.

Does Wellington export outside of the USA? If so, how has the changing global economy and weakening dollar affected international revenue?

Corrado's Training Blog @ http://DrawnOutsideTheLinesOfReason.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/Corrado
**********************


It's not my fault that I love Gatzby! He's such a pretty, pretty "man."

ERMD


quality posts: 1 Private Messages ERMD

This is one of the best parts to woot wine. Thanks Peter. Although I missed the last offering I will keep looking for it.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
Corrado wrote:Any repiratory complaints from workers around the ozone machine? My wife & I got a pair for our home years ago as 'air purifiers' and we both noticed a rapid onset of chest congestion and a few other symptoms that, after some googling, turned out be fairly common responses to the 'safe, heathy benefits' of home ozone generators (btw, they did make the place smell wonderful!).


The cost per barrel doesn't surprise me. This past week a friend was lamenting the rapidly increasing price of singlemalt scotch which led me to check the internation exchange rates (http://www.xe.com/). I was shocked to find that in the past 5 years, the dollar has lost +25% to the Euro and the GBP. In 2002, the Euro & Dollar were pretty much 1:1 and the Dollar:Pound was about 1.5:1. Now it takes $1.44 to buy a single Euro and $2.05 to buy a single pound.

Does Wellington export outside of the USA? If so, how has the changing global economy and weakening dollar affected international revenue?



Let's see, in order:
Avoiding excessive ozone use in a closed space is the one necessary precaution. Most of our use is outdoors. The Euro was worth $0.78 when first established (in the mid 90's ?); it's approaching double that value. We export less than one percent of our wine, an insignificant amount.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste

My 13 year old took a picture of our hands to show the contrast. Can one of you techies tell me how to copy it into a post? (from "My Pictures" in Windows XP).

Corrado


quality posts: 130 Private Messages Corrado

Volunteer Moderator

SonomaBouliste wrote:My 13 year old took a picture of our hands to show the contrast. Can one of you techies tell me how to copy it into a post? (from "My Pictures" in Windows XP).



1) http://imageshack.us
2) Click "Browse" and find the image on your PC.
3) Click "Host It."
4) When the next screen loads, choose the "Hotlink for forums (1)" and copy it.
5) Paste into a wine.woot message.

Corrado's Training Blog @ http://DrawnOutsideTheLinesOfReason.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/Corrado
**********************


It's not my fault that I love Gatzby! He's such a pretty, pretty "man."

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
Corrado wrote:1) http://imageshack.us
2) Click "Browse" and find the image on your PC.
3) Click "Host It."
4) When the next screen loads, choose the "Hotlink for forums (1)" and copy it.
5) Paste into a wine.woot message.



Wow, this is like having my own private IT dept. How ribs is that? Thanx, C. (no luck on my first try, however - got a this webpage can't be displayed error message when I clicked "host it". I'll try again later (probably tomorrow).

Corrado


quality posts: 130 Private Messages Corrado

Volunteer Moderator

SonomaBouliste wrote:Wow, this is like having my own private IT dept. How ribs is that? Thanx, C. (no luck on my first try, however - got a this webpage can't be displayed error message when I clicked "host it". I'll try again later (probably tomorrow).



Hrm... Try it again today. Sometimes their site gets momentarily confused about what to do.

Corrado's Training Blog @ http://DrawnOutsideTheLinesOfReason.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/Corrado
**********************


It's not my fault that I love Gatzby! He's such a pretty, pretty "man."

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste

If this doesn't work, it's all Corrado's fault!

polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22
SonomaBouliste wrote:If this doesn't work, it's all Corrado's fault!


You better not drink so much wine!!

Great photo.

Polar bears are meant to be clever, very clever. They are the Einsteins of the bear community. - Anonymous
Please donate to the 2014 MS Bike Ride
Want to read what SonomaBouliste has to say about wine?
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polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22

OK C and SB, Here goes.



Peter Wellington at work during Zin crush in early October. No purple hands, and likely was getting at least some sleep.

Polar bears are meant to be clever, very clever. They are the Einsteins of the bear community. - Anonymous
Please donate to the 2014 MS Bike Ride
Want to read what SonomaBouliste has to say about wine?
Ddeuddeg Cheesecake Cookbook
My Cellar

vquasarv


quality posts: 4 Private Messages vquasarv

As a wine noob, reading intense comments like this help me learn some of the complexities of the process. The parenthesis explanations are much appreciated.

"Cause once you're addicted to wine and champagne,It's gonna drive you insane,
Because the world's not so tame." -The Kinks

hardground


quality posts: 2 Private Messages hardground

Again, great stuff. This column simultaneously makes me want be a winemaker and never, ever be winemaker.

Why is there so much wine left at the end of my money?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
hardground wrote:Again, great stuff. This column simultaneously makes me want be a winemaker and never, ever be winemaker.



Gee, that's odd; I have the same feelings too

hardground


quality posts: 2 Private Messages hardground
SonomaBouliste wrote:If this doesn't work, it's all Corrado's fault!


Is that Stouffer's microwave Mac & Cheese?

Why is there so much wine left at the end of my money?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
hardground wrote:Is that Stouffer's microwave Mac & Cheese?




Busted! Late crush dinner, with a glass of red wine partially cropped out. Too late and too tired to cook a proper meal some nights.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste

Here's an interesting comment from a reader of Decanter, the British wine mag, in response to the spat between Robert Parker and Jonathan Nossiter (of Mondovino fame) after the release of Nossiter's new book.

"I'll start by saying I am not a fan of Robert Parker. Pretty much for the reasons he is knocking Nossiter. It goes back to the adage that he is attacking his enemies for what he is guilty of doing. I find Parker has a narrow mind and palate. I'm really getting tired of the over alcoholic, low acid reds with the jammy, plum fruit that has resulted from his critiques. I'm sorry but I like wine that goes with food. I'm finding that many of these wine critics must have burned out palates from too much tasting."
Keith Pritchard, OH, USA

RedRIII


quality posts: 0 Private Messages RedRIII

This is such fun to read for me. I realize that for the folks not in the industry this is fascinating, but for me I laugh at " a huge amount (14 tons of red grapes’ worth) ". That is not even one trucks worth at our facility. Granted we aren't some boutique winery, but one of the mass makers. We have had 1800 ton days in years past. Not this year.
Oh, what do I know about wine? Zilch, I don't drink. A co-worker did a blog in 05 documenting what we lovingly call "harvest hands", that god awful black that nothing, not citric acid, bleach or a coarse scrub brush with all of the above will remove.

Today was our company "Crush Party" even though we have more custom crush work next week. The harvest that started early and never ends!
Fun read tho, and I have grown to really love Woot and Wine Woot. I'm going after some cheeze right now! And I love the idea of a Cheese Woot.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
RedRIII wrote:This is such fun to read for me. I realize that for the folks not in the industry this is fascinating, but for me I laugh at " a huge amount (14 tons of red grapes’ worth) ". That is not even one trucks worth at our facility. Granted we aren't some boutique winery, but one of the mass makers. We have had 1800 ton days in years past. Not this year.
Oh, what do I know about wine? Zilch, I don't drink. A co-worker did a blog in 05 documenting what we lovingly call "harvest hands", that god awful black that nothing, not citric acid, bleach or a coarse scrub brush with all of the above will remove.

Today was our company "Crush Party" even though we have more custom crush work next week. The harvest that started early and never ends!
Fun read tho, and I have grown to really love Woot and Wine Woot. I'm going after some cheeze right now! And I love the idea of a Cheese Woot.




Thanks for the comments. I worked at wineries large and small before starting our own operation. One of the other production managers at the largest place I worked asked why I wanted to start a "toy" winery. When you love wine and winemaking and invest your life savings it's not a toy. This scale is way more labor intensive, but also puts me in intimate contact with the wines, which is its own reward. I was doing pumpovers Weds. AM when one of my seasonal employees asked if I wanted him to take over. I declined, explaining that I get a better feeling for the wines by my own physical involvement in their production. I know the wines better than if I were merely smelling and tasting them daily. Fourteen tons of pressing and eighteen tons of crush in one day is huge when your annual total is 150 tons plus 20 tons of custom crush. Imagine what ten percent of your winery's production in one day would seem like (impossible I imagine). My large winery experience has proven invaluable; crush there was constant, unrelenting crisis management. Getting a crusher motor rewound at 3 A.M. with hundreds of tons of grapes parked outside the winery overnight, trying to keep a wastewater overflow from reaching a nearby creek, ....it gives you some perspective.

nallie


quality posts: 8 Private Messages nallie

SB, you are a true artist. I love to read about the pleasure and passion you put into your craft. As recently as a few months ago, a jaded, skeptical little part of my heart figured boutique winemakers received some huge tax incentive or some other buried benefit to compensate for their insane hours and their complete dependence on the capriciousness of nature. I've grilled everyone I know, though - from accountants to vintners, and it looks like I'm wrong about that. Most of you seem to do it only because you love to create beautiful things, in this case delicious wine.

To take that kind of a risk, to work that hard, simply to make a lovely drink and - maybe - some profit, well, that's just plain extraordinary and we who especially enjoy a well-crafted wine are most grateful.

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." - h.keller
"If you can do something about it, there is no need to worry. If you cannot do anything about it, there is no use in worrying." - j.white (and also Shantideva)

hardground


quality posts: 2 Private Messages hardground

Hey, SB, what's in the Duke V? And (unfair question) if you were stranded on a desert island and a case of Wellington Vineyards wine washed up onshore, what wine would you want it to be?

Why is there so much wine left at the end of my money?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 232 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
hardground wrote:Hey, SB, what's in the Duke V? And (unfair question) if you were stranded on a desert island and a case of Wellington Vineyards wine washed up onshore, what wine would you want it to be?



The Duke is a blend of Zinfandel (that was too light for our Zin blend) and Merlot and Cabernet (that were too tannic for their respective blends). The "faults" of each component cancel each other, resulting in a reasonably rich and smooth blend.

If I were stranded on a desert island? What food would I have? If it were fish, I'd probably want the Sauvignon blanc. For sipping/comfort I'd have to go with the Port.