Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Wine Country Weekend

My wife and I met a couple of friends up in Napa this weekend and I was able to bring home a few nice bottles. After I took the pic I realized I had forgot a couple more. I think I did real good. We started out at Napa Wine Company, a custom crush with a tasting room that sometimes has a great surprise or two. The next stop was Elizabeth Spencer. I really like the couple who own this place and Spencer Graham one time kidded me about trying to grown Pinot in Pacifica and I guess I have always struggled to prove him wrong. ( But he might be right, sssshhhhhh don't tell him that though )
Elizabeth Spencer's New Wine Tasting Studio
     The next stop was lunch and our friends introduced us to a great place on highway 29 just North of St. Helena, Brasswood, a great place to eat and they have their own winery as well. I had a seared Ahi Tuna salad and a really nice Sauvignon Blanc that worked really great with the Ahi. Then I also found out they serve Burrata just like one of my other favorite eating places,Tra Vigne before they closed.  We now have another great place to eat as if we didn't have a million places already.
     Next stop Beringer where I got to see a some old friends, Ed and Adrian who work at the Rhine house and of course Carlos who is the king of the upstairs tasting room. I was happy to get a 2013 Chabot single vineyard Cabernet from Beringer, I have always had a fond appreciation for that vineyard. Also picked up a couple of the Private Reserve Chardonnays, they go great with either the crab sandwiches at Nick's in Pacifica or with the lobster rolls at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. Did I mention our friends can walk to Beringers, I was soooo jealous!
    Now back to our friend's house ( Did I mention he works at Spence Winery) where we sampled a couple of great wines, one an unlabeled mystery that was either a cab or cab franc, it was good whatever it was and a great bottle of Spence 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. All in all a very nice day in Napa with good wine, good food and good friends!

Just to make sure I don't forget, I ordered a 5 gallon bucket of Chardonnay juice from Peter Brehm, so it will be wine making time once again! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flickr Wine Photos

If you get a really big hankerin' to look at photos of wineries, wine, grapevines and all that kind of stuff, just take your little butt on over to my flickr site and browse to your hearts content. I said that in my Oklahoma accent in case you didn't hear me.

Friday, February 10, 2017

2015 Central Northern Coast Zinfandel

When I bought my Zinfandel grapes year, I was told they were from the Central Northern Coast, I learned that is the same as the Lodi and Brentwood area where I can pick my own grapes for about half what I paid for these, oh while, I think it will turn out good and that's the main thing.
    So after a fair amount of craziness trying to pick up my grapes at a warehouse in San Francisco, I made it home where I immediately went to work culling out the over ripe raisin-like fruit. Out of the four lugs I purchased I had to get rid of a lot of fruit, and when I finally got it all destemmed (by hand mind you) and crushed (by foot mind you) I ended up with what would of been a terribly over sweet high alcohol fruit bomb! I had to add a small amount of acidulated water, sounds nasty right? It's just some tartaric acid, the same that exists naturally in the grapes and a little water and I was able to bring the brix down to 25 which is okay for me, a little high but nothing compared to what it was.
 That's the first time I ever had to bring the brix down like that, I hope it doesn't happen again, but at least I figured out what to do.  Also I was not lying when I told you I really did crush the grapes by foot as you can see in the photo, my wife just shook her head but I assured her I sprayed my feet with the same stuff I sanitize my bottles and everything else, that's the first time I ever stomped my own grapes. 

      Everything else went according to plan, fermentation took a little while, about 16 days but I like those slow fermentations, I think it gives the wine a lot more flavor when it's cooler and takes its time. I pitched the maloactic bacteria just before it finished fermenting and it completed just fine.
     I pressed the fruit around the end of September and actually got more than I thought I would, somewhere around 8 gallons. I put everything to rest glass carboys and gallon jugs and racked it about three times and man it cleared up really well.
     Just about one year to the date I first brought the grapes home, I bottled the wine and ended up with 30 bottles and of course I had to same one, and I was surprised that it actually had a very pleasant taste even being so young. A lot of fruit and not as much acid as I thought there would be. So I am really looking forward to this Zinfandel after about another year or two of sitting around being lazy and just getting better with time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fail! My Pumpkin Wine

My father died in May of last year. He was the single-most person responsible for my interest in growing things and making wine. He was a master gardener and grew organic vegetables before it was cool. He made a white wine from the Niagra grapes that he grew in one of our backyard gardens. The other day when I tasted my homemade pumpkin wine, one of my father's favorite tasting descriptors for bad wine came to mind . . . . It was HORRID!

My wife said she had never seen me make such a strange face when I was tasting wine, oh well, at least it had a very pleasant nose, somewhere between the cross of an unoaked Chardonnay and a homemade pumpkin pie. The color wasn't too bad either, a clear bright wine somewhere between straw and yellow, it's a shame it tasted like the end of a bad day, it was so flabby and what little taste there was had a very objectionable sour taste. Oh well, I don't have too many bottles of it, and I will probably taste each one before I dump it, I find it very difficult to give up on any wine without at least trying it.

Here are a few vine to bottle photos from the life of my failed pumpkin wine. I will not be posting this recipe unless I can figure out what went wrong.

38 lbs. not too bad

Growing in my backyard compost pile.
 A few bottles, at least they look good.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pull Weeds and Make Wine

Damn weeds!
I spent a large part of the day pulling weeds around my vines, I guess I am lucky to not have too many so it doesn't take that long. Many people have told me to just spray Roundup or something similar but you know what? I don't like that stuff, I think there is something evil about it and my friends just say, "Oh come on, they've been using it for years." I know right? Maybe that's why things are like they are now, oh well, enough of that talk, back to weed pulling.
Where I live we are inundated with a beautiful little flower that some call, sour grass, wood sorrel, or as I like to call it Oxalis. It comes up during the wet part of the year and hangs around until the rain stops and it can grow anywhere, I don't think it even needs dirt to grow in. One year I got very ambitious and decided to make wine out of the little flowers, I mean, after all, they make dandelion wine, why not Oxalis?

I remember when I was a kid I used to eat this stuff and still today I notice the neighborhood kids quite often walking by with a long stem of the weed sticking out of their mouths. So after a little research on these dainty little invasive plants, I found that Oxalis acid is not too good for you in large quantities but I never let a little thing like poisoning hold me back, so I picked a couple zillion of those little yellow flowers, thinking that they probably contained a little less acid than the stems and whipped up a nice one gallon batch. I cooked the flowers in a sugar solution first which probably also helped to get rid of some of the acidity. At first, the wine was a crazy neon yellow  but after it cleared it turned a yellowish green and has a tart and sweet flavor that is unlike anything I've every tasted, I guess if you dipped some of the weeds in sugar and ate them that would be pretty close to the taste. I'll post the recipe later to make sure I don't die or get deathly ill from drinking it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Grape Flowers in Mid-March

Grape flowers on 4 year old Pinot Noir vinesMy first post and I can't think of a better way to start than with a photo of one of my Pinot Noir vines putting out a very early display of grape flowers. A great start for all of us, all the way around. My vines, all 13 of them, turn four years old this year and I might actually have a little crop thanks to a very generous El Nino that started dumping rain just about budbreak and continued up until I saw those little grape flowers a few days ago. I hope I can keep the vines happy and thriving and so far so good. All but two of my Pinot Noir vines have grape flowers and even three of my four Riesling vines are flowering. I guess it sounds like I am easily excited but this is just simply awesome for me.

Last year I had one little bunch of grapes after the birds and the racoons took their share, so this year I might actually have enough to make a bottle of wine of two. If I can grow my own grapes in this crazy foggy climate just two blocks away from the Pacific Ocean and if I am able to turn those grapes into a bottle of wine, that will be the best wine I have ever tasted, stay tuned!