Hope everybody has a fun and safe Halloween.
Eat chocolate! Drink red wine!
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Speaking in public is not my favourite thing to do, but I can make myself do it. As it turns out I didn't have to say much. One member, a mere 25% of our motley crew, who is the lone American and the only one taking this class for a grade, (yes, 75% of my group are not Americans, or taking the class for a grade), did the majority of the presentation. However, I didn't just stand around twiddling my thumbs, (no, I left that particular presentation skill to the two men in our group). I busied myself with manning the class computer. I had decided that the visual vehicle of our presentation should be driven by a blog that I had set up for that very purpose. (Thank you Blogger/Google for free blogging). The blog proved to be a great tactical coup because the other groups, as I had anticipated they would, used PowerPoint (boring) to present their visual content. Our instructor loved the blog format.
The fifteen minutes allotted to us flew by, thank goodness, and the feedback was very positive. Phew! Then the instructor dropped a bombshell - we have to do it all over again next week for a couple of Napa Valley College-bigwigs, Shark Tank-style. Not good.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
I was a little disappointed that the Thingwall Tipplers (you know who you are) were not present, but it seems they flew back to Merseyside on Wednesday. I was hoping to make my apologies in person for being a lousy emailer. Sorry!
Great evening, great food, great wines. Happy harvest season everyone!
Friday, October 23, 2015
For years now, Vinomaker and I have been using a home-made apparatus to separate the free-run juice from the pressed juice. Our DIY jobbie was made from food grade plastic and performed the task fairly well, but it was difficult to clean, and therein lies the problem. Anything, absolutely anything, that is used in the winemaking process from beginning to end has to be cleanable. There are a lot of ways to spoil wine and using dirty equipment is right at the top of the list. The most important thing to remember about microbial spoilage - from yeasts and bacterium - is that it is a whole lot easier to prevent the development of these microorganisms in the production of wine than it is to deal with the adverse effects of spoilage once it has happened.
Not exactly a cheap item, The Snorkel's retail price is $290. Vinomaker was considering another home-made gizmo, but when he did a little bit of research he found the cost of the materials alone would have been about $150. Much easier, and time management efficient, to just buy one that someone else manufactured. The Snorkel made the whole pressing operation, along with the fact that our hydraulic basket press was feeling better today, much more expeditious.
Harvest and winemaking 2015 is complete. Yay!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Although Andrew's main focus was on Facebook, (and how to optimise your company's online presence - for a relatively small amount of money), Andrew covered most social media applications like; Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Now, of late, I had been thinking that Facebook was a little passé, but apparently I am wrong. It seems Facebook is still the go-to platform for companies who want to reach the most people...and translate eyes-on-the-page into dollars.
Nowadays, one cannot escape the ubiquitous, highly recognisible, stylised, little social media icons that appear on just about everything. The Facebook icon was even on a bottle of San Pellegrino that I took out of the refrigerator when I got home from class. I'm left wondering who are the people who have the time to go to San Pellegrino's Facebook page and read about sparkling water, albeit Italian. I am not one of those people. I barely have time to post on this blog.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
A co-worker of mine at TWWIAGE is quite a good doodler - he is always scribbling away at something or other. Taking advantage of his talent, I asked him if he could draw me a Liverbird with grapes. Of course, I first had to explain to him exactly what a Liverbird was, but, after a couple of internet searches, it didn't take him long to come up with this sketch of my newest feathered-friend.
Fierce looking, with a bunch of grapes in its beak and a picking knife in its claw, this Liverbird looks all set for harvesting action - a bit like me...yeah, right.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Tomorrow, I must see if I can borrow the neighbour's horse, hook up a plough and get the vineyard whipped into shape for the winter. Just joking.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
I have to say, my group is an interesting mix of people. Originally the group was made up of 5 people, but then number 5 simply disappeared for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, our instructor had given us an additional group member, number 6. Then number 5 dropped the class and number 6 informed us that she didn't want to be in our group (ouch!) and so we became 4. Only one member of our group is an American, so communication is a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, we put our heads together in an attempt to come up with a 5 year financial plan for selling the wine that the college produces. (Our mid-term paper is due October 29th). After 45 minutes I could stand getting nowhere no longer: I made my excuses and left. Hopefully, my group and I will be able to come up with something feasible, (something better than the business plan I came up with on my own), over the next fortnight.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
I had actually decided upon the harvest date a few weeks back due more to logistics than anything else. Vinomaker was concerned that the fruit would not be ready, but, by the way in which harvest had been progressing valley wide, I really felt that harvest wouldn't be late in Vinoland.
Besides it being the earliest harvest in Vinoland it was also the fastest pick - which meant that the harvest lunch/afterglow got going a little sooner than expected; wine, food and more wine abounded.
A surprisingly enjoyable wine at lunch, brought along by Mrs. St. Helena Sot who had been given the bottle by the proprietor of the winery, was a Fantesca, 2012 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley AVA). Yes, a Chardonnay! An absolutely beautiful wine, made by Heidi Barrett (whoo hoo! for women winemakers), this Chardonnay was balanced, delicately fruity and was possessed of an ethereal quality that was simply too hard to describe. A fun quote, from Margaret Thatcher, printed on the cork (Fantesca Fortune Corkies) just added to my enjoyment.
Harvest 2015 is done, just ask this woman.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
VM: "Hey, it's Whatchamacallit's birthday, can you send him/her a bottle of TWWIAGE Cabernet Sauvignon?"
VG: "No, I can't."
VM: "Why can't you?"
VG: "Because I'd be committing a felony if I shipped a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to Whosit in, e.g., Pennsylvania."
VM: "Well, that's stupid!"
Yes, it would be a felony for me to ship wine into Pennsylvania and, yes, it is stupid. But that is the current state of affairs when trying to navigate the shipping/distribution laws in the US.
Tonight's wine marketing class concentrated on the unique, and arcane, wine distribution system in the United States. Simply put, the 'three-tier system' came into existence with the repeal of Prohibition (in 1933) which gave each state control over the sale and distribution of alcohol, (the three-tier system refers to the producers, distributors and retailers of wine). And that is the way it continues to work to this day, with no real incentive to change the system in the states where the distributor has a monopoly (and the politicians like the status quo). So, no, Thingamajig cannot have a birthday bottle of wine: I like my liberty too much.
It is much less complicated, in the US, to make wine than sell it.
Friday, October 02, 2015
Syrah by the numbers, 26.5 °B, a pH of 3.56 and a TA of 5.75.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Happy birthday V2!