Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hein pinot harvest

As you can see our Hein vineyard grapes came in today and we will be destemming them tonight. A bit lower in sugar and higher in acids than last year so will be an interesting contrast .

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Zin and Chardonnay harvest this week

Our Russian River zinfandel gets picked tomorrow. I made wine from this vineyard in 03 and 04 but skipped last year when we did the barrel with 100% Mendocino zinfandel instead. I am looking forward to trying a barrel of this one. We will do it in a French oak quarter barrel, medium toast - I ordered the barrel today. Note the photo of the vineyard - these are the old head-trained vines that grow in clumps with no trellis and as they were planted in 1937 should qualify as "old vines". Top quality stuff.

Our Carneros chardonnay from Sangiacomo Vineyard is picked Friday and so far is showing great acidity which is good news as we go to barrel-ferment it. Let's hope this will allow for a rich malolactic-fermented wine that still has the acidity to round it out. The 2003 I did with this fruit turned out really nicely and barrel fermenting will ratchet things up a notch.

Here is an excerpt from an email our vineyard broker Peter Brehm sent out. He has a good view of things going on all over wine country as he coordinates grapes from many vineyards...

The flooding from winter rains of 2006 were topped by heavy Spring rain. This cocktail made farming difficult and very expensive and labor intensive. An unusually hot (up to 115°F) August spell stunned some grape vines, while stimulating others. A cool September nursed most grapes back to more normal conditions. The grapes growing within the immediate influence of the Pacific's cold water, accumulated sugar very slowly, while keeping their acids.
Harvesting Zinfandel & Petite Sirah before any Pinot Noir has set a new standard in grape ripening. Harvesting cool Russian River Malbec & Cab Franc while the yellow trays of the sparkling wine houses were still being filled - unheard of!
The California North Coast has broken down into two distinct zones. One near the coast and Bay which is producing intense wine with higher than normal acid and lower than normal pH. The warmer inland, California vineyards are on a more normal ripening track. On the 24th of September we will harvest the final two clones from Mahoney's Las Brisas Vineyard. A few days before harvest I got a 3.17pH and malic acid content of 2.9. This is with a sugar of over 25°. BV's White Salmon Vineyard staff will be harvesting Pinot Noir during the same week we are harvesting Pinot Noir in the Carneros. In 20 years I have never had a parallel; the same time harvest separated by 600 miles. This is indeed a unique year.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dead soldiers

They served us well saturday. Some good reviews so far on the rock room pinot noir.

Ink Grade Cabernet happens Oct 2nd

Just worked out the schedule on our Ink Grade Cabernet Sauvignon: picking is October 2nd and they will drive the grapes down for destemming which we will do at 7pm. That is pacific time so 9pm here in TX. IF YOU WANT TO CHECK IT OUT... Assuming it is working check out the CrushCam (go the the custom crush website and click the Crushcam link) and watch the fun as we sort grapes before they run through the destemmer.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pinot Gris has been picked

Check out this photo of our Suisun Valley pinot gris just before harvest last week. Did you know this was such a red grape? It is a close relative of pinot noir and is more of a red grape than white. In fact a Texas grower I know made wine from his pinot gris and it was a faint pink color. Think blanc de noir champagne!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Harvest 2006 Status

The picking has begun! The growers are reporting in and here are a few harvest stats:
pinot gris (or pinot grigio if you prefer Italian) was harvested Monday 9/11 at 20.1 Brix (percent sugar by weight) and acidity of 8.2 g/l at pH=3.51. Finished with a little residual sugar this should be a nice low-alcohol quaffer to beat the heat next summer. Our Napa sauvignon blanc was picked the same day at 22.2 Brix and 7 g/l acid at pH of 3.3. We will do it bone dry and it will be a great refresher to pair with grilled shrimp next summer.

Meanwhile our InkGrade cabernet sauvignon (that is the photo) is already at 24.5 Brix at 7 g/l acid and pH 3.34. Should harvest by the end of September. The Hein pinot noir will be ready a week or two after that (two weeks later than last year). Bottom line is that California harvesting is bunching up a bit and could have shades of 2004 when fruit came in all at once.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Our first rockroom label

Here is our label - photo taken and sent from my mobile phone. Mobile blogging is cool!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

rockroomers gone pro

The pinot is turning purple as some in our midst prepare to leave God's Country (aka Texas) for a time to join forces with the pros at CA harvest time. David P just arrived in Cloverdale, CA to intern for the season with the Pisoni family. Gary Pisoni and sons Jeff and Mark have put the Santa Lucia Highlands on the map bigtime with some amazing pinots, syrahs and chardonnays. These wines have little brand recognition and very limited distribution but sell out quickly every year at $30-65 a bottle. They are that good. In fact about a week ago I was fortunate enough to sample a 2003 Lucia Garys' Vineyard pinot and a 2000 Nuits St Georges burgundy side by side. Both beautiful wines with many similarities - a real testament to the Pisonis' product. Meanwhile, JLin heads to Siduri to join our fellow Texans Adam and Dianna Lee as they crank out their annual array (20+ unique bottlings) of super-premium California and Oregon pinots. Click the links to these wineries, print out a map and phone number, and when you go to wine country call up your fellow rockroom winedanistas and demand a barrel sample!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bottling photos: 2005 Hein Vineyard pinot noir

Some of you get rockroom email updates at work and have had problems viewing photos sent as attachments. Hey, I always wash my hands before sending email and have even started wiping my camera down with sanitizer before taking photos but some mail servers STILL filter out my attachments. So posted here are a few choice photos from the recent bottling of our pinot noir...

Make a rockroom fashion statement

How appropriate that the first rockroom blog post is a shameless plug of our merchandise. Chalk it up to timing pure and simple -we now have a online store where you can buy your favorite rockroom winemaking cooperative gear. So now you can buy t-shirts. Or thongs. Or not. As with our co-operative winemaking endeavors, I am the organizer and promoter but am not making any money doing it. Think of me as a tent revival preacher that never passes the plate! It's all about the mission. Anyway, here is the url link so you can go shopping any time you want to: