Saturday, October 3, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards: Volume 40: Pickin' 'N A Grinin'

Hey, where were you?

I know, I know, ..., it was Oktoberfest, ..., but we had baked goodies from Ester's German Bakery & Peet's French Roast Coffee!

I know, I know, ..., there was a soccer match, ..., but we had Dittmer's Deli Sandwiches & Izze's Sodas!

It's OK, but we really missed you. But as they say, "blood is thicker than water", and my brother, Mike, and his wife, Monica, really pulled through helping us harvest our grapes, a whole 185 pounds of grapes! Kristen & I owe you & Monica big time Bro'! At least a couple of cases! (And hopefully, not cases of vinegar!

Yes, we were
pickin' & a grinin'" (thank you Poco!) last Saturday morning and a fine "Indian Summer" day it was. A little windy, but that keep it cool! My brother and his wife came all the way from Nevada! Talk about migrant farm workers! And they came prepared, hitting the vineyard with their own hooked harvest knives, which they picked up in Lodi (made famous by the John Fogarty & Creedence Clearwater Revival and now a big Zinfandel region of California) at the vineyard supply store located there. However, Mike and I soon converted to regular pruning shears after a coupe of cut fingers from these traditional instruments! Obviously, dexterity runs in our family. (Look to the side bar for more pictures of "My First Crush"!)

It took about 5 hours to pick all the grapes, but to start the wine making process it took less than thirty minutes. I had rented a "Crusher/De-Stemmer" apparatus from our local beer & wine making shop, "MoreFlavor!" (formerly known as "Fermentation Frenzy"), located near Chef Chu's & Armadillo Wille's. The Crusher part of the machine replaces that age old technique of stompin' grapes (picture Lucille Ball in that wine vat!), and mechanically "pops" open the grape skins to release the juice and inner fruit. While the De-Stemmer part ingeniously separates the crushed grapes from the stems!

The crushed grapes, now called the "Must", was collected a plastic fermentation barrel resulting in about 25 gallons of must. Because of my inexperience, I decided not to use oak barrels this time around, due to their high cost and it is easy to ruin a wooden barrel. And, at any rate, you can add oak wood chips during the latter part of the fermentation process, an idea that was conceived by Professor Singleton, who taught my "Introduction to Wine" class in Davis in 1975, giving wine the oaky flavor that comes from barrel fermenting.

Sunday, I added a sulfur compound called "Meta", to the must, that actually kills off the naturally occuring yeast and any foreign bacteria that maybe present. The naturally occurring yeast can be used to ferment the grapes, but there is a risk of getting off flavors. So most winemakers use Meta allowing about 24 hours for it to do its thing and then add back a specific wine yeast. The "Yeast", that I added on Monday, is for bordeaux style wines, which Cabernet Sauvignon falls into. So everybody cross your fingers, ..., we will see how things progress from here!

Hey Hose Alert! - To borrow another blogger's surprise catch phrase: "Have I been living under a rock!" They are actually sell garden hoses that have the following warning labels on them, "Do not drink from hose & wash hands after handling as the hose contains lead." Is it just me or has the entire world gone crazy! Who in the hell would make a hose that you could not drink from, ..., let alone let your kids play in a sprinkler, ..., or fill a kiddie pool without worrying that you are killing neurons in your kids! My wife, Kristen, came across this as we were buying some new hoses. Now we have lead free hoses around our hose. Not too big an investment to avoid dementia!

Yours from down in my wine cellar (well, actually in the crawl space under my house),


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