Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween.

Nothing says Halloween in these parts like a late harvest Sauvignon blanc, spicy pumpkin and cream cheese muffins...and a few spooky plastic Halloween rings.
Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A load of Old Bull.

Sorry, couldn't resist that.
A very grey Napa day found me traversing the valley in search of landscapes to photograph for the class I am taking. There was just one rule - no vineyards. Do you know how hard that is in this valley? The Napa Valley, a place where every postage stamp-sized plot of land has grapes on it. The day didn't end in tears, I did alright.
On my travels, I stopped off at Turnbull Wine Cellars, primarily to visit a photography exhibit that they are currently showing in their gallery (I also have to write a paper on a gallery visit.) To my delight, included in the exhibit was the iconic portrait, by Yousuf Karsh, of my True Wine Lover 1 captured at his most statesmanly. This was turning out to be a great day. But, whilst I was there I also decided to take advantage of an inter-winery discount that most wineries offer to each others employees. It's a great way to try wines, at a very reasonable cost, that I have never tried before. For $13.30 (plus tax) the Old Bull proved to be a more than worthy tipple with dinner; a bit plummy and overripe, but enjoyable none the less.
Of course, I am with little doubt that the discount helped the Old Bull go down.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My poor grapes!

Rain, rain, go away...
We've just suffered through 3 days of rain in Napa, and the forecast for the week ahead isn't looking too rosy. Vinoland's Cabernet sauvignon looks beautiful right now (pictured above a couple of hours ago), but will it stay that way until it is time to harvest?

Friday, October 22, 2010

True Wine Lover 10.

Hugh Johnson OBE. Or, as he is known in Vinoland, just plain Hugh.
No, I've never met Hugh, nor are we likely to ever cross paths, but I feel I have come to know the man through his writing. Hugh is arguably the world's best wine writer, I personally believe he has no equal (although Ms. Robinson comes awfully close.) If you are a wine enthusiast who is reading this post and you do not know who he is I suggest you find out.
Cambridge educated, Hugh has been writing about all things wine since before I was born. But to simply call him a wine-writer is a gross understatement. Hugh's 1989, 13 part mini-series Vintage: A History of Wine, tells the story of wine from ancient times to the present (well, 1989 at least.) Vintage is probably one of the best television programmes I have ever watched, in fact Vinomaker and I own it on VHS.
Hugh's book, Wine, was the first serious wine book that I ever owned. Hugh's 2006 memoir, A Life Uncorked, is the most recent of his books that I have read. Fascinatingly, it was like Hugh was reading it to me, I don't believe I have ever read any other book in which the author's voice, and personality, resonated so thoroughly from each and every page.
I just love Hugh!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

See ya, Syrah!

Vinoland, and it's immediate vicinity, was a hive of activity today. We harvested our Syrah, and I am happy to say the fruit looked to be of great quality.
The folks at Far Niente harvested their Chardonnay overnight (this photograph was taken a week ago), perhaps more due to logistics this year than just the desire to bring the fruit into the winery for processing as chilled as possible. 2010 is shaping up to be one of those vintages where the time between harvesting whites and reds is being considerably shortened.
This evening, Vinomaker and I attended the Napa Valley Small Vineyard Owners Association's harvest party...there were some vineyard owners of normal height there also.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Baume, Balling, or °Brix?

In Vinoland, we use degrees °Brix (°B) - the percentage of total solids in solution - to measure the sugar content of our grape juice. As I have mentioned before, this is only a guideline as to when grapes are ready to be harvested and made into wine.
Today was the first time that I have bothered to test our Cabernet Sauvignon to see just exactly where it is on it's little annual journey towards maturity. I took several readings and they all came in exactly the same, (no need to take an average of the readings - which was a first for me), 22.6 °B. Yes, Thomas, I know that that is approximately 12.9% potential alcohol, but look at the squished grapes in the above photograph; seeds are still partially green, pulp is still firmly attached to the seeds, and there is almost no colour extraction. The flavours are quite promising, but merely measuring the sugar content is no indication of phenologic maturity.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just a thought.

Maybe it is just my inner 10 year old English-school-boy-sense-of-humour, but I wonder if these people have ever seriously considered changing their surname...or at the very least not putting it on a wine label!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Grapey goodness.

Yum! The St. Helena Clone 7 looked and tasted good.
Everything went smoothly this morning; fruit arrived in a timely manner, sorting and destemming went according to plan, clean-up was quick and painless...should make for a good glass of wine three years from now. Cheers!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ready, steady...wait!

Our Zambelli crusher-destemmer is patiently waiting. It was used briefly, on Monday, for our small Pinot gris harvest, and will be used tomorrow on Clone 7 Cabernet sauvignon from a friend's St. Helena vineyard. It may be a while before we use it again on our own grapes.
Vinoland's Syrah is coming along decently, I got a respectable sugar reading of 23.4 °Brix today. This was, of course, an average taken from several individual readings of juice, from berries selected randomly throughout the vineyard. But, more importantly the fruit tastes good; the seeds are maturing, and the berries are softening nicely. Slow, but sure.
The Italians definitely know how to make great small winery equipment...and great wine...and great food...and great shoes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My Diploma.

At last. My diploma from Napa Valley College arrived today. I was beginning to think that I hadn't really graduated after all. It's finally official - Vinomaker can now take me for a celebratory meal.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Harvest begins in Vinoland: 2010.

On the right, Pinot grigio. On the left, Red Globe (a table grape.)
Harvest 2010 began in Vinoland today. Better late than never!
The Pinot grigio may be small, but it's awfully cute...and tasty!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Happy Birthday V2!

It's that time of year again. Today is V2's 3rd birthday...whoo hoo!
Breakfast this morning was followed by the opening of presents and the munching of chicken jerky. Of course, V1 was included in the festivities, in fact I think she liked the fluffy, honking Canada goose present more than V2. A good time was had by all, even me! Vinomaker and I will celebrate with a glass of something special tonight.
Happy birthday V2!