Miguel is back…
We look forward to having him assist us with our 2016 crush.
But First… Post Harvest Social Request…
150 members and guests enjoyed an early evening of fun and friendships last Saturday. For those that attended, you would have noticed that I was overly-occupied and distracted with fulfilling COOP member wine reserve pickups during the social. I must restructure this during future socials. I will probably make it a rule to pickup wine prior to or on alternate days. My request… Just so I can confirm all transactions on my spreadsheet, if you picked up wine at the social, please email me indicating what you did so that I can verify. Please also stipulate if you signed up for next year. My thanks.
Crush Day 2016…
I received a confirmation yesterday that our grape shipment is still on target. Plan for crush day on Tuesday, September 27th.
On Monday the 26th, the largest semi on the road will arrive with 20 tons of Suisun Valley grape. 40,000 pounds is the maximum capacity for the tractor trailer. They are shipped to us at 34 degrees in 1000 pound totes, directly from the vineyard to us. Since I cannot begin post-crush fermentation procedures until the grapes have warmed to 55-60 degrees, I will store the grapes overnight in our third bay. I designed the front storage area of this third bay to be the same length as the tractor-trailer bed. On Monday afternoon, I will clean, set in place and test all crush equipment. We will begin crush operations at approximately 7am on Tuesday.
FYI:To date, our crush day efforts processed the entire 20 tons of fruit in a 3/4 day’s effort. This year, we will receive an additional 5,500 pounds of Sangiovese grape Tuesday mid-day during crush operations. We will crush this fruit on the same day following the crush for our cab and zin blends.
Crush Day Procedures…
First of all, the term “crush” is a misnomer. As the crusher’s auger turns, it brings the fruit into the machine to de-stem, break the skin of the grape, but not smash the berries, and pump the berries and residual juice into open-topped primary fermenters. Our efforts will fill thirty 4-5′ fermenters, and if needed, smaller ones. Prior to crush day, I will store everything movable into other areas of the winery to optimize fermentation floor space.,
As mentioned previously, there is never an obligation for COOP members to work at our wine making events. If all COOP members showed up for the crush or press, I would need to have our winery operations moved to a Gillette Stadium parking lot. Judging on past experience, as few as 15 helpers can get the job done, but that would be a long day without breaks or assistance. Be aware that if many are around on crush day, please give others a chance to jump in and have a turn doing this or that.
Aside from myself, our long-time First Crush foreman Chuck, will once again lend direction and common-sense to point others in proper directions for expediency and safety.
I would advise water-resistant shoes, gloves and yard-work clothing. Bring a camera to record your experiences. We will have coffee and treats in the a.m., and Diane will make us soup or chili for lunch. In the afternoon, before cleanup, we traditionally open a few bottles of First Crush to toast the day, and the joys of wine making camaraderie.
It goes without saying that alertness and caution is paramount. Never put your hands near the crushers turning auger. As a tip, there is a temptation to rake grapes into the crusher faster than necessary. This will bog the crusher down and clog the pumping of crushed fruit. This will delay our efforts significantly whereby we have to shut it down, open it up and free the jam. Slow and steady is ultimately faster. Do not lift anything heavy by yourself. Use the assistance of your teammates when necessary, and always be aware of the moving forklift.
After the Crush…
That’s when my work and attention to detail as winemaker really begins. After everyone leaves, I test the contents of the primary fermenters in regard to temperature, potential alcohol, pH and acid balance. That evening, I make necessary adjustments. The grape and juice contents in the primary fermenters is now called “the must.” The next day, temperature is monitored closely. When the must temperature reaches 55 degrees I prepare buckets, one per fermenter, containing 2 quarts of must, nutrient and a special yeast per wine. This is called “the starter.” When the must is at 60 degrees, and the now fermenting starter bucket is within 10 degrees of the must, I can inoculate by pouring the starter culture into each primary fermenter. When we return to the winery the next morning, evidence of fermentation produces a wide smile. In 8-10 days we will have wine.
More wine making explanations to come in my post-crush, pre-press update.
Parking Reminder:We will be in our industrial complex on a mid-week workday. Please car pool if possible and always avoid parking in the front of our neighbors doors.
Two guys are out fishing on a lake.
The first guy reels in his line and sees that he has snagged an old bottle. As he is taking off the hook, a genie pops out of the bottle and promises to grant him one wish. “OK, turn the lake into beer!” he says. The genie goes “Poof!” and the lake turns to beer. He says to the other guy, “Hey, buddy, what do you think about that?” The other guy says, “You idiot! Now we have to piss in the boat!”
On the 27th, prepare to get berried,