Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ink Grade Cab "scratch-n-sniff" data sheet

There is a saying that "Great wines are made in the vineyard", but most great wines also have a data sheet like this showing all of the steps taken in the winery to ensure they get to the finish line in the best shape possible. Various additions of chemicals, yeast and yeast nutrients as well as temperature controls and punchdowns or pumpovers to keep juice and skins mingling all add up to make contributions to final wine quality. Based on this early tasting I would say the effort has paid off!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Grapes will soon be inbound to Austin

Harvest 2006 is finally drawing to a close in California and the last of our fruit to be shipped to Texas has been picked - Caldwell Vineyard cabernet franc from Napa Valley for our Right Bank Blend. I am anxious to see this fruit as the report from the field was super-ripe grapes with some raisining and thick skins on tiny berries. Several wineries use this grape in blends to add complexity to bordeaux-style blends. Hey - that's just what we are going to do! Well I had a vineyard pic to post with this but Blogger is screwed up at the moment and won't upload.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Our Ink Grade Vineyard cab was pressed last night and it is, well, inky. Great color and nice tannins . Most promising of all though are the subtle aromas and flavors of spice, cedar and cassis - just some of the unique character we were hoping for with this Howell Mountain fruit. What will it be Christmas 08 when you pop it open with a slab of prime rib? We will see...

Hein in barrel

It was a perilous climb but well worth the trip - our Hein Vineyard pinot is happy times in the barrel. Loaded with bright fruit it should soften with time as it goes through malolactic fermentation.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Merlot, er, I mean "Bordeaux Varietal" harvested

The cornerstone ingredient to our Right Bank Blend will be Napa Valley Suscol Ranch Vineyard merlot (see photo of this relatively young vineyard) which was harvested October 11th. Preliminary report is that the grapes were very clean with good ripe flavors and solid acidity. Sugar levels were a tad high so we will have to see if blending with cab and cabernet franc balances this out or we do a little "amelioration" to prevent excessive alcohol. Cabernet from the prestigious State Lane vineyard will be picked this weekend and cabernet franc soon after that. Then we will be ready to make our bordeaux-style field blend! This should be a very different wine from the Ink Grade cabernet sauvignon we are making.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Working lunch

One of the perks of winery work - 1989 white burgundy with meatball subs. Yum!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ink Grade cab is in

Our Napa Ink Grade cab is on its way to becoming wine! David P. sorts grapes here as we took fruit from 2 blocks - 70% G1 which was very ripe with some clusters showing slight raisining, and the rest F4 which had brighter acidity and cleaner fruit. The idea is that the 70/30 mix will have big, ripe flavors , plus enough structure to age a bit and/or enjoy with a steak.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bleeding for flavor

JLin taking out a bit of pink juice to concentrate flavors in some bins of pinot noir. Yum!

Barrel fermented chard

I siphoned settled chardonnay juice into 8 barrels for a barrel fermented chard last night. Note the mix of oak and stainless. We will add yeast today. This is Santa Lucia Highlands - we will do some barrel fermented chard from this region for the co-op this year.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hotel San Fran garden

A couple was in the hot tub so I left it out of the photo.

Accommodations when Crushing

Almost as unique as the custom crush experience is my suggestion for where to stay when visiting the area. Check out - not the usual tourist part of town but you can walk to the winery and it is a great value for a true Victorian b and b. Gourmet cont breakfast spread and beautiful grounds.

Hein-ie Crush

Here goes our Hein pinot dumping to the sorting table where we will pick out sticks leaves and any bad clusters. This is a good chance to taste lots of grapes as they go by on their way to the destemmer and make a first guess as to character of the wine. Good balance in our grapes with bright acidity and little raisining but also soft tannins and some earthy flavors. Stems are still pretty green so we will not risk including whole clusters in the fermentation as it could introduce bitter tannins. I know a couple of you tuned in on the crushcam: glad you joined us!