WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Hard Times - Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008

I can usually predict harvest dates quite accurately by early June, when grape flowering is complete. This year I projected that we might bring in our first grapes the week after Labor Day, but that we certainly wouldn't be in the thick of it until the following week. I planned a market visit to Ohio for Sept.2-8, figuring if one small batch came in during my absence it wouldn't be any big deal. I do travel under my own name, unlike my great-grandfather, a merchant during Victorian times who made a habit of registering in hotels as Martin Chuzzlewit because he didn't care for the sly looks he often got when he used his real name, John Smith. I had made my plans well before Lynda (assistant winemaker for the last 7 years) left for a dream job at Hanzell, and before the prolonged heat wave in late August. There was no way I could leave Sam and Dave (the Soul Men) what with it being the first crush at Wellington for both of them, so I postponed my trip until the end of October. My prior blog, This Could Be The Last Time, covered the “first harvest” when we brought in over 80% of our whites plus Malbec, some Zin and some Cab.
 

Please Sir, I Want Some More

Unseasonably cool weather the last two full weeks of September meant we crushed only 5% of our annual total during that normally busy time frame. Almost everything that was “supposed” to be ready at that time had already been harvested. This allowed us to catch up on “pre-crush” maintenance and preparation, keep on top of white fermentations very well, and recover both physically and mentally from the early September onslaught. It got to the point where I was thankful that one other prospective crush worker had backed out in late August, because there wasn't enough work. I had lots of time to check vineyards thoroughly and sample repeatedly, partly in hopes of finding something that was ready to harvest. The greatest benefit of the long cool spell was that the unharvested grapes had a chance to recover from the heat stress, re-equilibrate and mature slowly and evenly – probably the most important vintage related factor in high quality wine. We brought in our last grapes precisely three weeks ago and just pressed that tank this morning (Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet sauvignon, only 6½ tons, after 16+ last year)
 

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

I'm very happy with the quality of everything that came in during the “second harvest”, though Zinfandel gets an asterisk (see below). Quantity, however, was way down – by 42% from 2007 if I don't include grapes from two new (to us) vineyards, by 32% even when those are added. Frost, drought and a heat spike during bloom all took their toll on what already would have been a smaller than average crop; fortunately none of mother nature's little “gifts” had a negative effect on quality. I've always been a Pollyanna, and my optimistic spin is that my bottling costs will be down this year and next and I'll be lowering my inventory going into uncertain economic times. Speaking of that, we set an all time sales record in October. Various explanations come to mind: that people are in denial, that they want to drown their sorrows, that they're drinking more wine at home instead of going to restaurants, etc. My favorite idea is that people want to trade down in price, but not in quality, and recognize the high qpr of our wines.
 

Great Expectations - Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008

During my recent trip to Ohio several wine buyers asked me about the quality of the 2008 vintage. It's a common question, and I always preface my answer with an explanation of why you can't generalize about vintages in Northern California. This year's wines will definitely be a mixed bag, with some incredible wines, but also some so-so wines. It takes a while to assess wine quality; you get an idea of flavor and aromatic intensity during crush, but you really have to wait until the wines have gone through ML and settled clear to make a good assessment of balance, mouthfeel and concentration. In general, I'm concerned that the wines from the “first harvest” may be lacking in depth and concentration. I think most of our Cabs and other Bordeaux varieties will be outstanding. Zinfandel was our biggest challenge this year.
 

* Naughty, Naughty Zinfandel

The late Summer blast of heat caused shriveling, dehydration, and elevated sugar levels in all varieties.. This essentially affects all clusters and is more pronounced on the parts of the cluster exposed to direct afternoon sun. It is somewhat reversible in that the grapes tend to rehydrate and swell back up if they have adequate water and cool weather. Zinfandel, however, has a unique problem: random individual berry shrivel. It seems that the stems of individual berries shut down, restricting water movement into the berries. The result is a cluster spotted with raisins before the rest of the cluster is ripe. We have to harvest when the “normal” berries are ripe or we'll end up with unripe flavors and too much acid. This is why Zinfandel wines tend to have more alcohol than any other varietal. The amount of this raisining varies year to year, and 2008 was about as severe as I have ever seen. We had one tank that was 21.6°Brix at crush and went to 26.5°B after four days' cold soak. We drew off some juice for Rosé and replaced it with water, but the fermentation slowed at over 14% alcohol with 5% residual sugar, so we had to add more water to get it to go dry. By back-calculation, the grapes at crush had been approximately 32°B. A subsequent tank from the same vineyard had even more raisining, so I caved and we made our first late harvest Zin ever. Even with extended cold soaks and adjustments based on the assumption that sugars would still go higher, the average alcohol level of our Zins is over 15.5%. I guess we'll be looking into some alcohol removal again.

Only a couple of w00ters got into the spirit of the Stones last time. Maybe I'm too lowbrow for this crowd, so I thought I'd try a different twist this time. Cheers:)


rpm


quality posts: 182 Private Messages rpm

Fascinating and informative report! Thanks, SB!

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

mlhelm


quality posts: 8 Private Messages mlhelm

Thanks, Peter for returning to your blog. I have to admit I was disappointed when I thought your blogging days with woot were over. Welcome back!

more than enough wine.woots!

Loweeel


quality posts: 5 Private Messages Loweeel

Dickens FTW!

Favorites: Roessler ¬ KRPN ¬ Etude ¬ Stuart ¬ KRPort ¬ Tøøthstejnn ¬ Titus ¬ URSA ¬ InZin ¬ SBMystery ¬ SxBS&Z+4 ¬ DC3&4 ¬ TyC3&FB ¬ FeEquus ¬ PSPS ¬ Harvey ¬ SBRes&CR ¬ Corison ¬ Noceto ¬ Humbug ¬ KRSEXY3SOME ¬ PoiZin06 ¬ POLY ¬ Castoro ¬ SBCab ¬ KRPS2K ¬ HW12 ¬ GSaké ¬ הגפןCab ¬ PepBr

CT ¬ PSychos' Path
"The one difference between me and Petite Sirah is that I don't have a dumb period." - YT

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer

Welcome back, Peter. I hope you've nominally recuperated from what sounds like an intense crush and fermentation.

So, just to be a nuisance, how would you rate some of your other varietals this year?

:p

signed.

polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22

Good thing I never finalized that blog compilation. I will add this one and we will put it in a format that allows for growth.

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

LoonBoarder


quality posts: 7 Private Messages LoonBoarder

God bless us, every one. Welcome back!

Dude... wait, what?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
canonizer wrote:Welcome back, Peter. I hope you've nominally recuperated from what sounds like an intense crush and fermentation.

So, just to be a nuisance, how would you rate some of your other varietals this year?

:p



Crush is always pretty intense, but this seemed like the easiest one in quite some time - at least as far as physical work.

We've got a lot of wines that haven't finished ml yet, and a couple that haven't even finished primary fermentation (are still slightly sweet), so we haven't done much serious tasting yet. Of the whites, both the Roussanne and Sauvignon blanc are nice. The Roussanne from Saralee's Vineyard (Russian River) was the nicest fruit we've ever gotten from that vineyard; the very dry spring helped their soil dry out early, leading to uniformly small berries without a hint of rot (usually a problem there). The Sauvignon blanc is a bit of a pleasant surprise, considering it came in at an average of 26.3 Brix. We will be doing some alcohol removal next week on some of the SB as well as one lot of Chardonnay that's stuck at about 1% RS and 14.5% alcohol.

For reds, most of my assessment is still based on harvest. For better or worse, it will be a much more Parkeresque year than 2007 - big, ripe wines with lower acid levels and more alcohol. Somewhere down the road we'll probably need to "de-alc" some of our Syrah and Cab as well as Zin in order to avoid excessive heat in the finished wines. Over all I'm happy with flavors. The Handal-Denier Cab is once again a standout, and will no doubt be the starting point, as usual, for our Meritage blend (Victory). Thinking back to informal tastings of samples pulled for analysis over the last few weeks, the EnglandCrest Syrah also is a standout.

I'll give further updates in the future.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
polarbear22 wrote:Good thing I never finalized that blog compilation. I will add this one and we will put it in a format that allows for growth.




M, I was wondering about that. Good idea. As mentioned previously, I'm not swearing off blogging, just stepping back from the semi-weekly deadline. I hope WineDavid can coerce others to fill in the gaps.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
rpm wrote:Fascinating and informative report! Thanks, SB!



I'll be blogging less frequently than before. Maybe you could fill in the gap occaisionally with some comments on wine history, spiced with some vignettes (is that a wine-related word?).

blusky558


quality posts: 1 Private Messages blusky558

SB,

I have an amusing story for you.

I recently attended a monthly gathering of the local KOV chapter. I know, Wyoming must seem like the most unlikely location for a group of this type.
This group is very eclectric, with members who are bus drivers, insurance salesmen, a police officer, a pediatrician, just to name a few.

At one point, a member who is a local noted architect was waxing poetically about his love of Wellington NdN and how he had cases shipped on a regular basis. Since this was my first time with this group, it was to my utter delight to be able to discourse about the joys of Wellington wines and about your dedication to helping us wooters learn and understand the complexities of winemaking. It surely gave me an 'in" with the group, and I've been invited back for another soire and possible membership.

So thank you for your efforts in these blogs. They really do help us "noob"s learn to really appreciate the effort and care that go into a really great wine.

PS. I did get my guess right on the Mystery Wine Challenge. My certificate is framed and hanging in my office.

polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22
SonomaBouliste wrote:M, I was wondering about that. Good idea. As mentioned previously, I'm not swearing off blogging, just stepping back from the semi-weekly deadline. I hope WineDavid can coerce others to fill in the gaps.


You have the compilation up to the prior blog, correct?

I was hoping to get some comments from a couple of folks. I think the 100+ pages intimidated them. So I think rather than having Andy put it in a nice package at this time, I will update and we will find a place to host it. You have tons of information (and time and effort) reflected in all those blogs. I am sure there are a lot of new people that have not read them all. And they will be searchable.

I did not hear back from WD about hosting it on the woot site, so I think we will need an alternative place to host it.

Given time for comments on this blog, I think we are looking at end of the month. Sound OK?

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

rpm


quality posts: 182 Private Messages rpm
SonomaBouliste wrote:I'll be blogging less frequently than before. Maybe you could fill in the gap occaisionally with some comments on wine history, spiced with some vignettes (is that a wine-related word?).



I suppose if WD and you, and the Highway 12/29 Irregulars (as one might style the Tour-ists) think it would be of interest, I could do something. I just don't want to detract from what you and everyone are doing in any way.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

Loweeel


quality posts: 5 Private Messages Loweeel
rpm wrote:I suppose if WD and you, and the Highway 12/29 Irregulars (as one might style the Tour-ists) think it would be of interest, I could do something. I just don't want to detract from what you and everyone are doing in any way.



Here's an idea for the first topic: Understanding Cabernet: What Cabernet Is and Should Be, aka How To Avoid the Parkerian Fallacy

Favorites: Roessler ¬ KRPN ¬ Etude ¬ Stuart ¬ KRPort ¬ Tøøthstejnn ¬ Titus ¬ URSA ¬ InZin ¬ SBMystery ¬ SxBS&Z+4 ¬ DC3&4 ¬ TyC3&FB ¬ FeEquus ¬ PSPS ¬ Harvey ¬ SBRes&CR ¬ Corison ¬ Noceto ¬ Humbug ¬ KRSEXY3SOME ¬ PoiZin06 ¬ POLY ¬ Castoro ¬ SBCab ¬ KRPS2K ¬ HW12 ¬ GSaké ¬ הגפןCab ¬ PepBr

CT ¬ PSychos' Path
"The one difference between me and Petite Sirah is that I don't have a dumb period." - YT

polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22
rpm wrote:I suppose if WD and you, and the Highway 12/29 Irregulars (as one might style the Tour-ists) think it would be of interest, I could do something. I just don't want to detract from what you and everyone are doing in any way.



It would definitely be of interest. Sharing knowledge, inside a story of personal experience, is fantastic. And you have both. I also suspect that you will have a somewhat different perspective from the winemakers. And you one of the only people identified in the blog compilation of SB's prior blogs. Your comments were valuable, and I felt it was important to identify why your comments were "better than everyone else."

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

Lighter


quality posts: 10 Private Messages Lighter
Only a couple of w00ters got into the spirit of the Stones last time. Maybe I'm too lowbrow for this crowd, so I thought I'd try a different twist this time.



Even in their prime prime, Stones were more an acquired taste than even The Dead. Most of the folks here are not old enough to have attached to the Stones beyond a few tame hits. "Ruby Tuesday" is now a restaurant chain . . .

rpm


quality posts: 182 Private Messages rpm
Lighter wrote:Even in their prime prime, Stones were more an acquired taste than even The Dead. Most of the folks here are not old enough to have attached to the Stones beyond a few tame hits. "Ruby Tuesday" is now a restaurant chain . . .



I always preferred the San Francisco sound bands (Airplane, early Dead, Moby Grape, etc.) to the Stones, but then, I was there in the Summer of 1967....

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

rpm


quality posts: 182 Private Messages rpm
polarbear22 wrote:It would definitely be of interest. Sharing knowledge, inside a story of personal experience, is fantastic. And you have both. I also suspect that you will have a somewhat different perspective from the winemakers. And you one of the only people identified in the blog compilation of SB's prior blogs. Your comments were valuable, and I felt it was important to identify why your comments were "better than everyone else."



Would love to see the blog compilation....

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

joelsisk


quality posts: 10 Private Messages joelsisk

Thanks for continuing to share your life and the life of Wellington with us lowly wine consumers. You greatly enrich both our wine experience and our lives with your posts. Please keep posting whenever you are of a mind to do so knowing that we appreciate it!

Lighter


quality posts: 10 Private Messages Lighter
rpm wrote:I was there in the Summer of 1967....



I'm Midwestern. In your summer of '67, I was in the summer of '53!




themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
rpm wrote:Fascinating and informative report! Thanks, SB!


agreed & agreed...

do you know... what biodynamics is?

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
polarbear22 wrote:It would definitely be of interest. Sharing knowledge, inside a story of personal experience, is fantastic. And you have both. I also suspect that you will have a somewhat different perspective from the winemakers. And you one of the only people identified in the blog compilation of SB's prior blogs. Your comments were valuable, and I felt it was important to identify why your comments were "better than everyone else."


... and agreed! love the Highway 12/29 Irregulars btw - we should make a t-shirt out of THAT!

do you know... what biodynamics is?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
polarbear22 wrote:You have the compilation up to the prior blog, correct?

I was hoping to get some comments from a couple of folks. I think the 100+ pages intimidated them. So I think rather than having Andy put it in a nice package at this time, I will update and we will find a place to host it. You have tons of information (and time and effort) reflected in all those blogs. I am sure there are a lot of new people that have not read them all. And they will be searchable.

I did not hear back from WD about hosting it on the woot site, so I think we will need an alternative place to host it.

Given time for comments on this blog, I think we are looking at end of the month. Sound OK?



I do have the compilation.
The number of pages astounded me, too.
All your work is greatly appreciated.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
rpm wrote:I suppose if WD and you, and the Highway 12/29 Irregulars (as one might style the Tour-ists) think it would be of interest, I could do something. I just don't want to detract from what you and everyone are doing in any way.



I would be very interested, and, judging from previous comments, so would a large part of the w00t community.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
Lighter wrote:Even in their prime prime, Stones were more an acquired taste than even The Dead. Most of the folks here are not old enough to have attached to the Stones beyond a few tame hits. "Ruby Tuesday" is now a restaurant chain . . .



Yeah, and Cadillac ads feature Led Zep, and even stranger yet, for one of the cruise ship lines, Iggy Pop. Tom Waits is the only artist I know of who has fought wholeheartedly against commercial use of his work.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
rpm wrote:I always preferred the San Francisco sound bands (Airplane, early Dead, Moby Grape, etc.) to the Stones, but then, I was there in the Summer of 1967....



I was there then too. Quicksilver, Big Brother, Youngbloods, Country Joe. Ah the memories (flashbacks?). The Airplane's music was so complex that a lot of their live performances sucked, but when they were on they were incredible.
I figure a lot more people are familiar with the Stones' lyrics, regardless of whether they're fans or not.

bhodilee


quality posts: 32 Private Messages bhodilee
SonomaBouliste wrote:Yeah, and Cadillac ads feature Led Zep, and even stranger yet, for one of the cruise ship lines, Iggy Pop. Tom Waits is the only artist I know of who has fought wholeheartedly against commercial use of his work.



XM/Sirius have a Led Zep channel, all Led, all the time. They've also got a Grateful Dead channel and a Bruce Springsteen channel. Guess which one I'll never turn to

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."

– George Bernard Shaw, author (1856-1950)

timbyrd


quality posts: 2 Private Messages timbyrd
rpm wrote:I was there in the Summer of 1967....



Any truth to the rumors that the character of Bo in "Bottle Shock" was actually patterned a bit after you from those days?



-- T

Official holder of unofficial, unauthorized, non-woot gatherings.
My cellar

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
bhodilee wrote:XM/Sirius have a Led Zep channel, all Led, all the time. They've also got a Grateful Dead channel and a Bruce Springsteen channel. Guess which one I'll never turn to



Of the three, there's only one i'd have on a pre-set (Sorry, I don't know how to attach Jerry Bears to a post)

rpm


quality posts: 182 Private Messages rpm
timbyrd wrote:Any truth to the rumors that the character of Bo in "Bottle Shock" was actually patterned a bit after you from those days?



-- T


Sorry....

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
timbyrd wrote:Any truth to the rumors that the character of Bo in "Bottle Shock" was actually patterned a bit after you from those days?



-- T



And God bless you also, Tiny Tim.
Actually, it was patterned after Bo. I definitely wouldn't want my kids seeing any movie with a main character patterned after me circa 1975 - it'd probably be more like a cross between Almost Famous and Up In Smoke.

Walstib


quality posts: 2 Private Messages Walstib

Another wonderful report, SB. I'm always pleased to click and read when one of these pops up.

rpm wrote:I suppose if WD and you, and the Highway 12/29 Irregulars (as one might style the Tour-ists) think it would be of interest, I could do something.


I don't fit in any of those categories, but I can still offer an emphatic, "Heck yeah."

SonomaBouliste wrote: (Sorry, I don't know how to attach Jerry Bears to a post)
...me circa 1975 - it'd probably be more like a cross between Almost Famous and Up In Smoke.


A man after my own heart...

ltraffis


quality posts: 1 Private Messages ltraffis
rpm wrote:I suppose if WD and you, and the Highway 12/29 Irregulars (as one might style the Tour-ists) think it would be of interest, I could do something. I just don't want to detract from what you and everyone are doing in any way.



RPM & SB.....not only is drinking good wine enjoyable, but being educated about the history and the processes within the industry takes the reader's knowledge to another level. Thank you and welcome back. It's also great to hear we may be in line for some more fantastic Peter Wellington wine.

ltraffis


quality posts: 1 Private Messages ltraffis
SonomaBouliste wrote:I was there then too. Quicksilver, Big Brother, Youngbloods, Country Joe. Ah the memories (flashbacks?). The Airplane's music was so complex that a lot of their live performances sucked, but when they were on they were incredible.
I figure a lot more people are familiar with the Stones' lyrics, regardless of whether they're fans or not.



Wow..someone as old as me. Birds, Yardbirds, Ventures, Smokey, The Who, early Santanna, Fleetwood Mac, Doors...I'm going to head to the basement and pull some 33 1/3s out and play on the old Sansui, Dual, Bose system.

rpm


quality posts: 182 Private Messages rpm
SonomaBouliste wrote:I was there then too. Quicksilver, Big Brother, Youngbloods, Country Joe. Ah the memories (flashbacks?). The Airplane's music was so complex that a lot of their live performances sucked, but when they were on they were incredible.
I figure a lot more people are familiar with the Stones' lyrics, regardless of whether they're fans or not.



First time I heard the Airplane live was in the summer of '66 in Rio Nido up on the Russian River - my memory of the performance has always been surrounded by an awareness of two light shows - one in the venue and the other in my head.

A very wise friend once said of the experience with recreational pharmaceuticals: just remember, it's all real and it's all in your head.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 35 Private Messages ddeuddeg
rpm wrote:I always preferred the San Francisco sound bands (Airplane, early Dead, Moby Grape, etc.) to the Stones, but then, I was there in the Summer of 1967....



Yeah, early Dead, when Pigpen was still alive. And Airplane (not Starship).

"Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge". - Hester Browne


Ddeuddeg's Cheesecake Cookbook

polarbear22


quality posts: 35 Private Messages polarbear22

It is not complete, but the compilation of SB's blogs is now available!!

Random Ramblings from the past year.

This blog will be added in a week or so, once the discussion completes. Assuming there is wine discussion after the classic rock.

Thanks to Sanity for hosting this.

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

auggie24


quality posts: 23 Private Messages auggie24
SonomaBouliste wrote:And God bless you also, Tiny Tim.
Actually, it was patterned after Bo. I definitely wouldn't want my kids seeing any movie with a main character patterned after me circa 1975 - it'd probably be more like a cross between Almost Famous and Up In Smoke.



What, not John Belushi?

Just because I am younger, doesn't mean I don't know Stones, btw. I play Paint It Black on Guitar Hero III.

ltraffis


quality posts: 1 Private Messages ltraffis
polarbear22 wrote:It is not complete, but the compilation of SB's blogs is now available!!

Random Ramblings from the past year.

This blog will be added in a week or so, once the discussion completes. Assuming there is wine discussion after the classic rock.

Thanks to Sanity for hosting this.



Can't get into the PDF?????

Lighter


quality posts: 10 Private Messages Lighter
ltraffis wrote:Can't get into the PDF?????




No problem here. But, that doesn't help you! It's a version 5X which should be workable for most reader installations this century.