September 1, 1998
Just to start out, I thought I'd tell a funny story that happened 3 harvests ago -
It was a trying day in Dry Creek Valley. After harvesting 20 tons of Sauvignon Blanc for Ferrari-Carano, we started in on 5 tons for our own Zinfandel. Everything went well until my best friend who was driving my tractor could not see where the tractor wheel ended and my toe began. Of course instead of thinking too much about where to go for the next harvest section in the vineyard, I should have been looking at the tractor wheel. Needless to say I had to crush the 5 tons even though I was bleeding away. THE HARVEST MUST GO ON!!
Now, on to this year's notes:
September 2, 1998 (102 degrees high; 55 low)
My assistant winemaker, Brendan Eliason, arrived this week so I had to put him to work. We drove over to Lambert Bridge Winery this morning to pick up a few new barrels we ordered to add to our inventory of used barrels for the coming harvest. After that, Brendan and I filtered the last two gallons of 1997 late harvest sauvignon blanc, which we then hand-bottled and labeled and plan to sell only at the winery in half bottles for $20. Based on our walk through the vineyard yesterday, it looks like harvest will begin around the 20th of September, starting with the grapes for dry sauvignon blanc which we sell to Lambert Bridge Winery and Ferrari-Carano. Zinfandel for Nalle Winery and for our program will probably start a few days later.
September 3, 1998 (103 degrees high; 53 low)
9:30 a.m. Jeffrey from Ferrari-Carano made his second appearance of the year with the result of the sugar tests on the sauvignon blanc grapes being sold to them. Six days ago he had a sugar reading of 17.8. Today the test was 19.3. It appears that we are 2 to 2-1/2 weeks before harvest of these grapes. Ferrari-Carano wants 23% sugar.
10:30 a.m. I put Brendan to work to prepare for bottling our second lot of 1997 Estate Cuvee. To explain a little about how this second lot came about: we left approximately one-half gallon of wine in each barrel after the July 6-7 bottling. That created approximately 65 gallons of wine after settling. Since we do not filter or fine, we want to make sure that the wine we bottle is clear and so allow it to settle for several weeks. This settled wine is then what will be bottled as our second lot of estate cuvee.
11:30 a.m. We had six people stop by for futures pick-up and tasting. Since they were interested in our DVD set-up, we viewed a little of the movie "Space Jam" at their request. It was definitely the highlight of the day!
12:30 to 3:00 p.m. Back to work, Brendan and I bottled the second lot estate cuvee (messy work), ending up with 35 cases. Everyone who is "lucky" enough to come by the winery in the next few weeks will have a chance to evaluate the wine to decide whether or not we should label and sell it.
4:30 p.m. Brendan leaves for a four-day weekend, but the Coffaros having no place to go, will keep you posted on the weekend's activities.
September 4, 1998 (92 degrees high; 60 degrees low)
The Labor Day weekend traditionally means I'm out in the vineyard counting vines, looking at bunches and preparing for harvest, if not actually harvesting, so it seems odd that I get to take the day off today and drive to Santa Rosa to visit my favorite hangouts: Costco and Best Buy. I always come home with more than my family thinks I need, but you never know when you might have a cookout and need 6 giant bottles of ketchup!
September 5, 1998 (81 degrees high; 61 degrees low)
After almost a week of temperatures in the 100+ range, we woke up today to gray, overcast skies - which thankfully brought not even a traceable amount of moisture for the day instead of the predicted thunderstorms. Trouble with my irrigation pump which is located down by the creek prompted me to take another look at the vineyard today, and the grapes have dramatically changed in color and apparent ripeness, so it now appears that the harvest may begin a little sooner than I had anticipated, but certainly not before the 15th of the month. The pump needs servicing and new parts so it's a good thing that we are approaching harvest, as I normally cut off irrigation 2-3 weeks before harvest anyway. While I was out in the vineyard, Pat spent the morning boxing up cases of wine for a number of people who were planning to drop by to pick up their 1997 futures orders today. It turned out that approximately 40 people stopped by and we enjoyed an afternoon of tasting wine, listening to music, and reacquainting ourselves with so many of our faithful supporters!