WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

(The long interval between blogs is the writer's fault this time; I've just been incredibly busy.)
 

Out Of Crisis Comes Opportunity - Weds. Aug 13, 2008

Our assistant winemaker of the last seven years, Lynda, cut her family vacation on the Klamath River short for two reasons. First, the smoke was so bad that her husband and kids were wheezing and coughing a lot. Second, a dream job opportunity presented itself. I know it was a hard decision for her because we are like family at the winery, but if I were in her shoes I'm sure I would have taken the job. The timing, people, and nature of the job are a perfect fit for her life right now. I immediately listed a position on winejobs.com, and was overwhelmed by the response. I had over 50 applicants from 17 countries on five continents; fortunately more than half of them were from Northern California. Almost all of them were qualified, so I set about choosing those that I thought might be the best fit. While Lynda, and Chris before her, had worked only half time except during crush, I didn't want to limit the candidate pool, so I set about looking for applicants who had other skills and experience such as vineyard work, marketing, or mechanical skills (i.e. someone who could take on some of my duties in addition to the assistant winemaker responsibilities).

I thought I had settled on the right person, and was prepared to make an offer, when one of my closest friends, David Noyes, gave me a call and asked me to go for a walk (we often walk in a local nature preserve and discuss business, family, the meaning of life, etc.) David was the founding winemaker at Kunde Estate and worked there for sixteen years, leaving a little over two years ago to work on his own brand full-time. Prior to that he was assistant to Paul Draper at Ridge for many years. Although David had previously told me he was looking for a little outside income while growing his brand, I hadn't considered the possibility of what ensued. He ran into Lynda's new “boss” and found out Lynda was moving, thought about it and approached me.

We spent about four hours talking last weekend, and David has agreed to come work with me starting next week. I'm thrilled, and lots of people have been making comments like “I can't wait to try the wines you guys are going to make together.” 
 

Here's One For You, Nineteen For Me - Sun. Aug. 17, 2008

During the RPM tour, a question came up about all the taxes and government fees we pay. Back in 1988 we had to deal with 14 different agencies in order to build a winery, including paying $400 for an archaeologist to confirm that we wouldn't disturb any Native American burial grounds (the land had been continuously farmed for over 100 years). We currently pay annual or semiannual fees to many different states for permits to sell to distributors, consumers or both. Within California we pay the state for a Winegrower's license, a Processor's license, a Produce buyer's permit, a Weighmaster's license, a Grape Crush Report assessment, a Pressure vessel inspection fee, a Corporate filing fee and a Division of Water Rights filing fee. Sonoma County gets us for a business license, Food Handler's permit, Hazardous Materials Permit, Agricultural Burn permit, Scale Inspection fee, and a Weights & Measures business ID. I'm probably forgetting a couple, too. We pay excise and/or sales tax to a number of states, including California, and Excise tax to the federal government. The only tax I recall ever being diminished or eliminated was the Special Occupational Tax that came into existence during the tenure of a President who ran on the slogan “No new taxes” (although the 529% increase in federal excise taxes that passed during that administration is still in effect). Of course there's also the sales and property taxes that all businesses pay.
 

Nightmare On Maple Street - Mon.. Aug 25, 2008

The old county assessor's parcel maps show a 96 lot subdivision of our vineyard that was created in the late 1800's. In the early 1980's a developer tried to get a 36 parcel subdivision approved, but couldn't because the ground didn't “perc” well enough for nearly that many houses (there is no county sewer line nearby). The neighbors were thrilled when we bought the property with the intention of building a winery, as they had been resigned to looking at a subdivision. On the old map there were four named streets running through the vineyard, with Maple St. running right between our two winery buildings – through the crush and bottling area.

We bottled over one third of our annual production last week, and it was the most problematic bottling we've had since around 1993. Fortunately, nothing happened that would compromise wine quality, but otherwise, the saying “Murphy was an optimist” came to mind. We had two very full days scheduled, but had an almost two hour delay starting because a switch for the vacuum corker wasn't working properly. We had labeling problems all day long, and more vacuum problems at the end of the first long day. As a result, we had to stack several pallets of wine cork-up for two days, then flip and restack the cases for shipment to the warehouse. We also had to soak the labels off over fifty cases of wine (most still isn't done) and hand label them. Toby suggested a w00t “bleeped-up label” offering. These labels are much, much more difficult to remove than the mystery wine labels, which has led us to the conclusion that an issue with the adhesive was responsible for the application problems during bottling. The specified adhesive was exactly the same as before; our printer took leftover labels and is having them tested.

I can't blame all our problems on suppliers and mechanical problems. I ordered the tin capsules for an entire year's worth of bottling back in November, the bottles in January and the corks in late July. During the blending process, the volume of our red table wine, The Duke, increased and I didn't give a second thought to bottling supplies. When I made a list of supplies for Sam to bring to the bottling area, we had just enough capsules for the Syrah, Grenache and Noir de Noirs, and were a little bit short for the Zinfandel and the Duke., but we did have some plain gold and plain red capsules left over from other projects. By the middle of the second day of bottling it became evident we were going to be tight on corks (it didn't help that the bottling company had gone through a couple of hundred while testing and fixing the vacuum problem). At that point I turned to Sam and said, “Gee, I never recalculated how many cases of glass we had vs. how much wine we actually have.” As we got toward bottling the last of The Duke, we ran through the custom “Wellington” capsules, the plain gold and the plain red capsules and knew we'd have 15 or 20 cases without capsules for tasting room pouring. Then the last glass pallet was almost empty. When there was less than five gallons of wine left in the tank we ran out of corks, so the last couple of cases got corked with samples from different cork vendors. After bottling 2071 cases in claret (Bordeaux shape) bottles we had 11 bottles left over. At least we don't have to worry about storage space for bottling supplies this winter. :)

I apologize for the long interval between blogs. Between time spent filling a key position, a week long vacation, putting up a w00t offering and our largest single bottling in years I just haven't been able to set aside much time. My spell check just suggested I replace Zinfandel with Infanticide:)


themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous

another quality post. that is some assistant winemaker you managed to recruit (or did he recruit you?). that he seems like a close friend is the icing on that cake!

so, any progress on recruiting others to join in your Ramblings, e.g. Scott Harvey?

do you know... what biodynamics is?

cheron98


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98

Forgive my ignorance... capsules? Is that the foil on top of the bottles?

Bleeped-up label offering... I LIKE IT!

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
cheron98 wrote:Forgive my ignorance... capsules? Is that the foil on top of the bottles?


yep.

do you know... what biodynamics is?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
themostrighteous wrote:another quality post. that is some assistant winemaker you managed to recruit (or did he recruit you?). that he seems like a close friend is the icing on that cake!

so, any progress on recruiting others to join in your Ramblings, e.g. Scott Harvey?



TMR,

I did drop a hint in Scott's direction during the Inzinerator offering, but I don't have the time to do any recruiting work, so it'll be up to the w00t nation and WineDavid. Also, I can't bring myself to call David an assistant winemaker; I'm still working on a title.
Btw - forgot to give you credit for the question on taxes. Thanks. Also the inspiration for a topic for my next (last for a while) blog - alcohol & RS.

Peter

LoonBoarder


quality posts: 7 Private Messages LoonBoarder

Great blog post, Peter. DW confirms, after reading this, that becoming a wine maker is not in the cards for me...

Dude... wait, what?

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
SonomaBouliste wrote:TMR,

I did drop a hint in Scott's direction during the Inzinerator offering, but I don't have the time to do any recruiting work, so it'll be up to the w00t nation and WineDavid. Also, I can't bring myself to call David an assistant winemaker; I'm still working on a title.
Btw - forgot to give you credit for the question on taxes. Thanks. Also the inspiration for a topic for my next (last for a while) blog - alcohol & RS.

Peter


let's see:

1. K-O on Scott & our need (read: WD) to take up the cause.
2. consulting winemaker / winemakier consultant, advising winemaker / winemaker advisor, associate winemaker? if none of those appeal to you, i find that adding "extraordinaire" to a mundane-sounding title (like, say, assistant winemaker extraordinaire) dramatically improves it! :P
3. thanks for tackling taxes (holy red tape, Batman!) & looking forward to you doing the same for alcohol & RS (& it would seem acidity / pH based on Scott's comments during the Inzinerator offering).

'sall for now.

do you know... what biodynamics is?

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 32 Private Messages ddeuddeg

My spell check just suggested I replace Zinfandel with Infanticide

Methinks your spell check is a bit confused. Perhaps it is thinking about something rpm said about your opening that '95 Cab at Deuce back on July 22nd.

"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

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 32 Private Messages ddeuddeg
LoonBoarder wrote:Great blog post, Peter. DW confirms, after reading this, that becoming a wine maker is not in the cards for me...



Same here. I know it's an old one, but this puts one in mind of the question "How do you make a small fortune in the winemaking business? Start with a large fortune."

"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

JOATMON


quality posts: 19 Private Messages JOATMON

Peter,

Just opened and consumed part of a bottle of your 2007 Le Pique-Nique; still mighty tasty with a nice tang to it.

I'm trying to keep track of the varietals and percentages of what I drank; is the blend of that wine proprietary, or can you reveal varietals and percentages?

Juvie: 30+24+4; Sellout: 6+7+0
Rags: 3+2+3
Drunk: 69+94+15 wine, 20+29+4 non-wine
Rugrat: 0+0+0; Refunded: 2+3+1
(as of 2011-03-02)

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
JOATMON wrote:Peter,

Just opened and consumed part of a bottle of your 2007 Le Pique-Nique; still mighty tasty with a nice tang to it.

I'm trying to keep track of the varietals and percentages of what I drank; is the blend of that wine proprietary, or can you reveal varietals and percentages?




I'm at home this morning, so I don't have the info with me, but IIRC, it's about 70% Zin, 25% Syrah, 5% grenache. If it's significantly different I'll post again.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
themostrighteous wrote:let's see:

1. K-O on Scott & our need (read: WD) to take up the cause.
2. consulting winemaker / winemakier consultant, advising winemaker / winemaker advisor, associate winemaker? if none of those appeal to you, i find that adding "extraordinaire" to a mundane-sounding title (like, say, assistant winemaker extraordinaire) dramatically improves it! :P
3. thanks for tackling taxes (holy red tape, Batman!) & looking forward to you doing the same for alcohol & RS (& it would seem acidity / pH based on Scott's comments during the Inzinerator offering).

'sall for now.



I can add some comments about pH and acidity that will probably be mostly of intellectual interest only. (Gosh, intellectual sounds SO much better than geek, doesn't it?)

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
SonomaBouliste wrote:I can add some comments about pH and acidity that will probably be mostly of intellectual interest only. (Gosh, intellectual sounds SO much better than geek, doesn't it?)


... and so much better than g33k!

do you know... what biodynamics is?

Lighter


quality posts: 10 Private Messages Lighter
SonomaBouliste wrote:Also, I can't bring myself to call David an assistant winemaker; I'm still working on a title.



Are there any legal issues to prevent calling him "winemaker?" If so, there is the superbly vague "Vintage Winemaker."

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
Lighter wrote:Are there any legal issues to prevent calling him "winemaker?" If so, there is the superbly vague "Vintage Winemaker."


I've been saying Associate Winemaker, or just that David is working with me. I did let a previous assistant use the title Winemaker (primarily because it would look good on his cv), but it ended up confusing people.

jwhite6114


quality posts: 119 Private Messages jwhite6114
Toby suggested a w00t “bleeped-up label” offering.


If I haven't said it before, let me say it now, "I like Toby!"

CT | | | | | |

jwhite6114


quality posts: 119 Private Messages jwhite6114
SonomaBouliste wrote:I've been saying Associate Winemaker, or just that David is working with me. I did let a previous assistant use the title Winemaker (primarily because it would look good on his cv), but it ended up confusing people.



Funny, I never realized you were British

CT | | | | | |

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
jwhite6114 wrote:Funny, I never realized you were British



Don't you remember my recent reference to hoovering? What kind of name do you think Wellington is anyway, Armenian? (No insult intended - I've got enough body hair that an Armenian friend has made me an honorary cousin.)

UBlink


quality posts: 19 Private Messages UBlink

Just for grins lets say David gets the winemaker title - that gives us an opportunity to come up with a new title for you. Since the guy at Twisted Oak has already taken el jefe, maybe you could go with HMFIC.

Following the eight word profile, political economy in eight words:
Ain't no free lunch - them what has gets.

Loweeel


quality posts: 5 Private Messages Loweeel
UBlink wrote:Just for grins lets say David gets the winemaker title - that gives us an opportunity to come up with a new title for you. Since the guy at Twisted Oak has already taken el jefe, maybe you could go with HMFIC.



or El Duque?

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

woopdedoo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages woopdedoo

Thanks Peter. With all my shipments and the Mystery wine, it has been all Wellington all the time.

With regard to capsules, I know that they might add some cachet to the brand, but I find them both aggravating and environmentally un-friendly. For me, it is like those blasted plastic packaging things that have got to have caused numerous injuries with people trying to open them with sharp objects.

Yes, I own several foil cutters, but I would be delighted to purchase wines - sans capsules. And I second jwhite's comment on Toby's brilliance (in the British sense of the word).

rpm


quality posts: 177 Private Messages rpm

Just catching up with your ramblings after the labor day long weekend - I look forward to them all and congratulate you on your new co-conspirator David Noyes - you should make an awesome team, and I (and all other tour-istas I'm sure) look forward with anticipation to the (ahem) fruits of your labors!

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

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer
woopdedoo wrote:Thanks Peter. With all my shipments and the Mystery wine, it has been all Wellington all the time.

With regard to capsules, I know that they might add some cachet to the brand, but I find them both aggravating and environmentally un-friendly. For me, it is like those blasted plastic packaging things that have got to have caused numerous injuries with people trying to open them with sharp objects.

Yes, I own several foil cutters, but I would be delighted to purchase wines - sans capsules. And I second jwhite's comment on Toby's brilliance (in the British sense of the word).



start sealing in wax?

signed.

bhodilee


quality posts: 32 Private Messages bhodilee
canonizer wrote:start sealing in wax?



I have a bottle of wine that was sealed in wax and it looks awesome, but I dont' know how costly that is compared to just the foil. It does make it look like quite the imposing bottle of wine though, and according to TMR, it IS an imposing bottle of wine.

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

– George Bernard Shaw, author (1856-1950)

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer
bhodilee wrote:I have a bottle of wine that was sealed in wax and it looks awesome, but I dont' know how costly that is compared to just the foil. It does make it look like quite the imposing bottle of wine though, and according to TMR, it IS an imposing bottle of wine.



Yup, I have some italian wine sealed. The problem, I presume, is if the wax dries out and chips there's a subsequent risk of the cork drying out, reducing the likelihood of being able to store the wine a long time. There's also the display aspect of wine stores and they probably require better than average treatment in order to remain uniformly intact.

signed.

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
canonizer wrote:Yup, I have some italian wine sealed. The problem, I presume, is if the wax dries out and chips there's a subsequent risk of the cork drying out, reducing the likelihood of being able to store the wine a long time. There's also the display aspect of wine stores and they probably require better than average treatment in order to remain uniformly intact.


i would not think that capsules play any role in the process of a cork drying out since the seal between capsule & cork is not hermetic. (Peter can correct me if i am mistaken.) it does raise the question of whether wax plays the opposite role, ie preventing a cork from drying out, but for that to be the case the seal between wax & cork would have to be hermetic. i do not know if this is the case. anyone?

do you know... what biodynamics is?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
UBlink wrote:Just for grins lets say David gets the winemaker title - that gives us an opportunity to come up with a new title for you. Since the guy at Twisted Oak has already taken el jefe, maybe you could go with HMFIC.




HMFIC? i hope that doesn't mean something bad.

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
SonomaBouliste wrote:HMFIC? i hope that doesn't mean something bad.


only in certain (nicer) parts of town.

do you know... what biodynamics is?

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
woopdedoo wrote:Thanks Peter. With all my shipments and the Mystery wine, it has been all Wellington all the time.

With regard to capsules, I know that they might add some cachet to the brand, but I find them both aggravating and environmentally un-friendly. For me, it is like those blasted plastic packaging things that have got to have caused numerous injuries with people trying to open them with sharp objects.

Yes, I own several foil cutters, but I would be delighted to purchase wines - sans capsules. And I second jwhite's comment on Toby's brilliance (in the British sense of the word).



Capsules were made of tin/lead alloys until less than 20 years ago. Traditionally, the lead protected the corks from insects and rodents. We've stuck with tin so far, instead of plastics or aluminum/plastic sandwich material. Pure aluminum is an option, but tends to be harder and sharper than tin. Tin is more expensive, but is recyclable while the polylaminate materials are not. A good foil cutter will make quick work of removing the top disk.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
rpm wrote:Just catching up with your ramblings after the labor day long weekend - I look forward to them all and congratulate you on your new co-conspirator David Noyes - you should make an awesome team, and I (and all other tour-istas I'm sure) look forward with anticipation to the (ahem) fruits of your labors!



Thank you. Also, thanks for the nice letter re the tour; my apologies for not acknowledging it sooner.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
themostrighteous wrote:i would not think that capsules play any role in the process of a cork drying out since the seal between capsule & cork is not hermetic. (Peter can correct me if i am mistaken.) it does raise the question of whether wax plays the opposite role, ie preventing a cork from drying out, but for that to be the case the seal between wax & cork would have to be hermetic. i do not know if this is the case. anyone?



Wax dipping can't be done with a typical mechanized bottling operation. It's also quite expensive - only justifiable for very small production, high price wines. The owner of Enkidu Wines started a business in the early 90's that developed and sold wax disks that could be glued to the top of the cork. It never caught on.
Regarding wax's sealing abilities, I've had older wax-sealed bottles, and the hard wax does seem to do a superior job of protecting the cork and preventing ullage.

Maybe we'll be converting to primarily screwcaps, as the Australians have, in coming years, and capsule material won't be a concern.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
themostrighteous wrote:only in certain (nicer) parts of town.



What do it mean?

bhodilee


quality posts: 32 Private Messages bhodilee
SonomaBouliste wrote:What do it mean?



Head Cylon-frakkerin charge. You asked, please don't probate me

Whoo hoo, they finally filtered motherfucker, hit reply for actual meaning

weird, they filtered it once, but not the other time. Strange woot, very strange.

So weird, if you type out HMFIC you get head Cylon-frakkerin charge, but if you type the word MF you get the actual unfiltered word. I'm gonna have to ask the judes for clarification on this one.

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

– George Bernard Shaw, author (1856-1950)

andyduncan


quality posts: 32 Private Messages andyduncan
SonomaBouliste wrote:What do it mean?



Urban Dictionary to the rescue. (NSFW Language)

I'm putting WD's kids through college.

andyduncan


quality posts: 32 Private Messages andyduncan
bhodilee wrote:weird, they filtered it once, but not the other time. Strange woot, very strange.



Yeah that's odd, neither was filtered for me, then refreshed and only the first one was.

I'm putting WD's kids through college.

bhodilee


quality posts: 32 Private Messages bhodilee
andyduncan wrote:Yeah that's odd, neither was filtered for me, then refreshed and only the first one was.



I put an extra space between frakker in charge because the filter filtered it frakkerin, the extra space messed with the filter making the actual saying appear. Silly Woot!

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

– George Bernard Shaw, author (1856-1950)

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
SonomaBouliste wrote:I can add some comments about pH and acidity that will probably be mostly of intellectual interest only. (Gosh, intellectual sounds SO much better than geek, doesn't it?)


i should probably clarify where my comment came from. in the Inzinerator thread, Scott posted the following:

ScottHarveyWines wrote:Yes, it will be an annual offering. .8% RS is actually lower than a lot of the new world style zinfandels have. Dryness is always a balance of acidity and RS. The acid is high (.7) with the pH being low at 3.4 so at .8 RS the wine is still perceived dry. In Germany a wine can legally be labeled dry if it is with in 2 tenths of the acidity. So, a Riesling with .9 acid can have as much as 1.1% residual sugar and still be labeled as dry (troken). This wine falls within the same definition with a .7 acid and .8 RS.


therefore my query re the relationship between RS & acidity / pH.

do you know... what biodynamics is?

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer
SonomaBouliste wrote:Wax dipping can't be done with a typical mechanized bottling operation. It's also quite expensive - only justifiable for very small production, high price wines. The owner of Enkidu Wines started a business in the early 90's that developed and sold wax disks that could be glued to the top of the cork. It never caught on.
Regarding wax's sealing abilities, I've had older wax-sealed bottles, and the hard wax does seem to do a superior job of protecting the cork and preventing ullage.

Maybe we'll be converting to primarily screwcaps, as the Australians have, in coming years, and capsule material won't be a concern.



I've seen those disks around. I feel like there's still some market for those. As a direct response to TMR's question, it was my impression that foil does play a roll in the protection of the cork, both for humidity/drying and chipping.

I like corks. If screw caps do everything well, I will not complain about it, but it does not change my mind that I like corks.

signed.

SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 238 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
themostrighteous wrote:therefore my query re the relationship between RS & acidity / pH.



I was already going to refer to Scott's German frame of reference as well as the difference/interaction of pH and total acidity, so don't get any ideas about taking credit for getting ideas

themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous
SonomaBouliste wrote:I was already going to refer to Scott's German frame of reference as well as the difference/interaction of pH and total acidity, so don't get any ideas about taking credit for getting ideas


EXCELLENT!

as for not taking credit, my dearest SB, i am the most righteous after all! it is in my NATURE to take credit for such brilliance. i'll just have to make an exception then.

do you know... what biodynamics is?