Sunday, December 13, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards: Volume 50 - Seasons Greetings!

Happy Holidays Everybody:

Hope you are getting into the Christmas Spirit! And speaking of spirits, we will be racking our wine for a second time very soon. That means we will be done with the malolactic fermentation and we will be starting the aging process!

In the first racking we removed the "Gross Lees". At the end of the malolatic fermentation period, in a second racking, we will remove the "Fines Lees". Then we will arrest any further malolactic fermentation by adding a sulfur compound (SO4), also called "Meta".

As you may know, most red wines and a few whites will improve with aging. All reds and whites like Chardonnay should be aged for at least a year. Part of that aging will be done in our big carboy bottles, called "Bulk Aging". And then the "Final Aging" will be done in individual corked bottles.

So, while we wait for our wine to age, and to put you in the the proper spirits of the season, please enjoy our Sphar Family Christmas Video with wishes of fine wines in the New Year!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Years!!
Kristen, John, Scott, Katie & Suzie

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards: Volume 49 - Stirring The Lees!

Hi all:

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a great turkey meal, accented by a couple of glasses of my home brewed Cabernet that I was able to pull during the last racking! I may be bias, but I thought it is pretty good!

After Thursday, we had a nice "stay at home", long weekend. And just when I thought everything was on automatic pilot in the wine making department, and just like my primary fermentation process, my malolactic fermentation seems to be stuck.

It turns out that you have to "Stir the Lees", the fine lees that settle to the bottom of the container, along with the maloactic bacteria in dormant lump. Also, my cellar (aka: my crawl space) is too cool, from 55-65 degrees, when we should be around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 13-20 degrees versus 22 degrees Celsius for all you metric folk).

So, after ineffectually trying to shake my 5 gallon jug of wine, I bought a food-grade, long handled, narrow plastic spoon used in beer making, as recommended by the folks at MoreFlavor! (formerly Fermentation Frenzy), four bucks ($4 US). So now I can reach the bottom of my 5 gallon carboy and stir up the fine lees (clumps of malolactic bacteria cells, tiny bits of grape skins & other solids).

In the old days they used a long wooden stick ("baton"), but wood can carry unwanted bacteria, which can reek havoc with wines. I have read some winemakers stir weekly, some monthly and the commercial guys automate stirring by storing their oak barrels on roller racks, which can be rotated automatically. Let's try it twice a month and see how that goes!

It was pretty warm a few weeks ago, the last hurrah of Indian Summer, but now it is turning pretty cold. Did you see the snow on the hills this morning! So I am trying to get things a bit warmer down in the cellar, to hopefully finish the malolactic fermentation. I hope you stay warm on these cool autumn evenings as winter quickly approaches!

From down in my cold wine cellar,


P.S. - Miriam Bach, our German exchange student, was almost trampled to death by our herd of pygmy goats in their avarice rush to eat the weeds in the vineyard! See the heroic video below of her near death experience!