Rose’ and Rousanne, the shell game

First half ton of Sangiovese going into the crusher.

First half ton of Sangiovese going into the crusher.

I have a sun-fried brain, funky tan lines from my muck-boots and shorts attire, and have given up trying to clean the color from around my fingernails for the time being.  Between the two places that we are crushing we had just over 17 tons of fruit come in yesterday; 7 is for Adamant Cellars, but the rest is for us.  None of the fruit came in when it was scheduled, limited resources (labor in the vineyards, one shared truck, and minimal winery help) can wreak havoc on the plans we make.  It took some doing to come up with a reasonable approach to processing all of this fruit without having to stay up 24 hours straight.  It is Jason and I with help at each facility when others are available – 10 tons of fruit sounded daunting to me last night!

There is technique to filling the crusher just right so we don't lose juice.

There is technique to filling the crusher just right so we don’t lose juice.

Last year, as a first year in the WWCC EV program we all participated in the processing, but the decision-making was made by instructors without consultation – good thing as there would have been no consensus!  This year, interning with two small wineries, the whole picture is coming into better focus.  Staying on top of the vineyard samples to anticipate when fruit will come in, watching the weather to be sure no storms will increase disease pressure at the last minute, and having the tanks and space to move in the facility among other issues have all come to the forefront of planning.

This morning, at a not-too-early hour for me, we crushed the Sangiovese for the Locati Cellars Rose’.  It had to sit on the skins for about twelve hours (that

I came home to a salsa party in the kitchen; fresh garden tomatoes and they go a little crazy.

I came home to a salsa party in the kitchen; fresh garden tomatoes and they go a little crazy.

means we are going to be pressing as darkness falls tonight), so we will be returning this evening to finish pressing it into tanks and inoculating it.  Jason went to help Adamant Cellars process their fruit through the day – it is in the high 80’s, so I feel for him.  I chose to come home to have a nice lunch with my husband and do some laundry, write this blog and maybe (not sure there will be time) even a motorcycle ride.  Of course, seeing my daughter was a gift I didn’t expect, but it was wonderful when she arrived a few minutes after me.

Rachis in the right bin, crushed berries in the closer bin - about 12 hours of sitting on the skins should give us the color we are looking for.

Rachis in the right bin, crushed berries in the closer bin – about 12 hours of sitting on the skins should give us the color we are looking for.

Monday, all day, Jason and I will be processing the 6 tons of Rousanne that are waiting for us at the Adamant Cellars facility for his Lagana Cellars label.  With the fruit in the house we are able to make more specific plans.  Since we knew the Alborino would be processed today, meaning we couldn’t do the Rousanne this was the only option.  There should be a reprieve this week as we anticipate (appreciate!) the onset of Autumn and red grapes arrive.

Cheers!

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine, Wine making | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some very good news!

I am so pleased to share that our ‘old’ house, the one that was flooded and needed to be restored, the one we had for sale, has a new family moving in next month!  The contractors completed the restoration yesterday (Yes, that would be September 17th, over six months of working on it – ridiculously long!) and we sign the contract with the new family today, Friday.  It is great to know someone will love the house and enjoy living there again.

Meanwhile, back in Walla Wall during 2014 crush, we had over six tons of Pinot Gris arrive to process Tuesday and Wednesday – it is all pressed and inoculated.  The Rousanne is due to arrive some time on Saturday.  The Rose’ grapes, Sangiovese and Barbera,  will most likely be picked on Sunday.  Whether they are brought in early enough to process and let sit on the skins for pressing on Monday is yet to be determined.  But, we have a new destemmer to anticipate using, so anticipation is high!  Knowing the weather here will shift from mid-eighty days to mid-seventy next week and the high probability of precipitation that will accompany it we made a sample run for most of the red varietals we have out there.  Analysis results indicate we are going to have reds coming in hard on the heals of the Rose’.  We seem to be rushing through this harvest at a breathless pace!

Clone 115 Pinot Noir at Breezy Slope Vineyard, dropping acid nicely.

Clone 115 Pinot Noir at Breezy Slope Vineyard, dropping acid nicely.

Red grape analysis begins in earnest!

Red grape analysis begins in earnest!

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine, Wine making | Tagged | 2 Comments

Pinot Gris Days

Four tons of Columbia Valley Pinot Gris from Reed Vineyard pressed last night:

From here...

From here…

to here and then into the tank!

to here and then into the tank!

On my way to the farm to press another 1.5 ton of Walla Walla Pinot Gris from Breezy Slope Vineyard!

Cheers!

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine, Wine making | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Crystal Ball Prediction

The ‘plan’ for the week:

Monday is bottling day for Adamant Cellars, Tuesday we will be pressing Pinot Gris at Lagana Cellars, Wednesday is busier with Sangiovese and Barbera coming in for Rose’ processing and pressing Pinot Gris for Locati Cellar.  Remember, plans are made to change, so not sure if this will really take place, but this is what I am anticipating.  Can’t see beyond this right now but we have a warm week anticipated so there might be another grape picked and processed… or not.

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine, Wine making | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 first load of Riesling is in the tank

2014 Riesling crush crew - at least those of us present and not behind the camera - for Lagana Cellars.

2014 Riesling crush crew – at least those of us present and not behind the camera – for Lagana Cellars.

First filling of the press with the new shute; waning daylight.

First filling of the press with the new shute; waning daylight.

It is difficult to get the grapes into the press so we had to get a bit creative with our technique. No bladder presses were harmed in the making of this Riesling.

It is difficult to get the grapes into the press so we had to get a bit creative with our technique. No bladder presses were harmed in the making of this Riesling.

Dawn's turn foot-stomping the second press load of Riesling.

Dawn’s turn foot-stomping the second press load of Riesling.

Moon is way up, lights are inadequate, but we are still crushing Riesling.  Probably the last night crush in shorts, it got pretty cold cleaning up.

Moon is way up, lights are inadequate, but we are still crushing Riesling. Probably the last night crush in shorts, it got pretty cold cleaning up.

My turn foot stomping, probably the largest press load of the night.

My turn foot stomping, probably the largest press load of the night.

Yeah, definitely the largest press load, we had to hand press some to fit them on top...

Yeah, definitely the largest press load, we had to hand press some to fit them on top…

It took some manipulating to get the press doors on and bolted tight it was so very full.  Note, even my partner in wine was able to participate in the Riesling crush - that is him front left!

It took some manipulating to get the press doors on and bolted tight it was so very full. Note, even my partner in wine was able to participate in the Riesling crush – that is him front left!

Travis cleaning the shute after that last load, all hands on the crush pad needed to be helping.

Travis cleaning the shute after that last load, all hands on the crush pad needed to be helping.

Riesling juice just beginning to ferment this morning... you should hear it crackling in the tank.

Riesling juice just beginning to ferment this morning… you should hear it crackling in the tank.

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine, Wine making | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Henry Earl Estates 2010 Merlot

2010 Red Mountain Merlot from Henry Earl Estates - delicious.

2010 Red Mountain Merlot from Henry Earl Estates – delicious.

Before we began harvesting grapes and potatoes this year, my partner in wine and myself decided to visit a new tasting room in downtown Walla Walla: Henry Earl Estates.  It is spacious, two stories with seating on both floors and room for live entertainment on the ground floor, with early nineteen hundreds decor.  As it is in one of Walla Walla’s old buildings the theme fits the space well.  We shared a tasting flight of a couple of whites and a few reds while chatting with both of the guys working the bar.  It turns out one of them is beginning the EV program at WWCC this year and the other one is contemplating taking it.  We enjoyed the wines and the conversation and took home a couple of bottles, one of which wasn’t open for tasting but highly recommended.

Fast forward to Monday evening and enough time to savor a glass of wine while sitting on the back patio awaiting the last Supermoon of the year; the recommended bottle is the one we opened.  Red Mountain AVA sourced Merlot from a cool vintage, Victor Palencia (phenomenal wine maker for Shaw Estates including Henry Earl & Russel Creek, Jones Family Wines and Palencia Wines including Monarch and Palencia labels), and our gamble on the bottle last month didn’t seem too much of a risk – both are well-known to us.  The moon was semi-shrouded in clouds, but bright and lovely, the wine was dark with old leather and Marion berries on the nose, also lovely.  Each sip was cinnamon, clove, plum and blackberry with a finish of tart raspberries.  As I write, Tuesday night, we are sipping from this same bottle which has less pronounced leather on the nose, but more on the palate, more subtle spices but still loads of berries on the nose and palate.  This was a good call.

Cheers!

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A much needed day of rest… or two

Orange Muscat grapes from Lonesome Spring Vineyard in Red Mountain AVA - pressed and inoculated.

Orange Muscat grapes from Lonesome Spring Vineyard in Red Mountain AVA – pressed and inoculated.

My Harvest 2014 internship began in earnest about three weeks ago.  We have been preparing both facilities for the grapes, taking samples from the vineyards we are getting fruit from and pressing white varietals as they are ready.  My hours have been so crazy I haven’t even had a glass of wine or beer with my husband during the last week!  Sunday and this morning are the first two days I have taken any time off; it felt so good to wake up without an alarm, to sip my morning cup of tea and visit with my equally busy husband, my partner in wine.  It was rejuvenating Sunday, but I am sure today will further aid my ability to dive back in and work hard Tuesday when we bring in Riesling, to say nothing of the rest of the week.

Sangiovese & Barbera grapes sampled for Rose', but not yet ready.

Sangiovese & Barbera grapes sampled for Rose’, but not yet ready.

I am trying to balance my crush responsibilities with my job at a downtown tasting room, Seven Hills Winery.  Saturday I was scheduled to work there in the afternoon; for the first time in three weeks.  It was so good to see my coworkers, to pour and talk about wine with visitors from around the world.  I cleaned up my hands as best I could to remove the discoloration around the nails, moisturize the dry skin from all of the cleaning of equipment and handling of grapes, and wore nice clean clothes instead of the grubbies I wear on the crush pad.  This is all after getting up early in the morning to visit some of the close vineyards to pull and analyze samples.

We still have warm days, so crush is fraught with bees and wasps trying to get their share of the delicious grape juice.  Last year I was stung for the first time in my life, Jason was also stung with a much worse reaction, hoping we can manage to avoid that this year.  We found several wasp nests very close to the crush pad that will have to be dealt with early one morning when it is still cool.  Since we are at a farm, with various crops for miles around, it isn’t unusual to have lots of insects, but the wasp population is even larger than it was last year if our Friday pressing of Orange Muscat grapes is any indication.

Despite the intensity of the workouts each time we press, the bumps and bruises I incur, and the lack of sleep (I need lots of sleep) with crazy work hours, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  The romance of a glass of wine has not been diminished at all for me; but I appreciate it immensely.  It has occurred to me that my wine coolers are full of small press, craft wines, if you will, rather than large production wines.  Where every you live there are sure to be small wineries, have you tried their wines?  Let me know what you find, what you like and if they direct ship (Washington State).

Cheers!

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine making | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A step up in equipment

After another vineyard run to gather grape samples we were processing juice for sugar, acid and pH levels when the telephone on the wall rang.  I was astonished that the phone was connected and functional (since I hadn’t hard it at all last year) before we had the thought that it might be the driver delivering the new crusher/destemmer we were expecting.  As the farm isn’t visible to any of the online map apps it seemed logical that the guy would call for directions.  Good thing Jason answered it or we would have been waiting a long time for the truck if the driver followed the directions he found online.

New crusher/destemmer for Locati Cellars arrived in time for harvest.

New crusher/destemmer for Locati Cellars arrived in time for harvest.

Last year we had a smaller, less contained crusher/destemmer, now we are giddy with anticipation of using this new one.  We unraveled all of the protective plastic, removed the taller sides for the hopper that were wrapped and laying inside it.  Getting it off of the specialized wood palate went smoothly; now it just has to be cleaned and wired before we toss grapes into it.

The sample data gave us enough information to make harvest and crush decisions for the next few days: we will crush at the Locati Farms today.

Good wishes to you for a relaxing, warm weekend – I will be toiling away, doing what I love to do: making wine!  Oh, I am supposed to be at Seven Hills Winery, in the tasting room on Saturday afternoon too.

Cheers!

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine making | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A day during crush at Lagana Cellars

We had super help in Dawn & Gary Brumfield Monday, they also provided many of the photos that I get to share with you here.  Walla Walla is primarily composed of small wineries (like so many AVA’s) and we all have to stick together and support each other – this is an example of such an event.  Hope you enjoyed Labor Day, hope you enjoyed delicious glasses of wine… we enjoyed making wine for you.

Cheers!

#1:Lagana Wines crush pad ready for the first fruits of 2014!

#1:Lagana Wines crush pad ready for the first fruits of 2014!

#2: Loading Sagemoor Sauv Blanc on the flatbed truck.

#2: (4:00 PM) Loading Sagemoor Sauv Blanc on the flatbed truck.

#3: Unloading the Sauv Blanc from the flatbed truck.

#3: Unloading the Sauv Blanc from the flatbed truck.

#4: unloading the borrowed slide to make filling the press easier.

#4: unloading the borrowed slide to make filling the press easier.

#5: Five tons of fruit finally in the winery to process.

#5: Five tons of fruit finally in the winery to process.

#6: Dawn preparing the cleaning solutions, one basic and one acidic, to clean the equipment with.

#6: Dawn preparing the cleaning solutions, one basic and one acidic, to clean the equipment with.

#7: Jason, winemaker, cleaning the stainless steel tank in preparation for the juice.

#7: Jason, winemaker, cleaning the stainless steel tank in preparation for the juice.

#8: Me cleaning the outside equipment (the slide and press) to be sure it is ready to take the fruit.

#8: Me cleaning the outside equipment (the slide and press) to be sure it is ready to take the fruit.

#9: Tipping the fruit into the press, stems and all.

#9: Tipping the fruit into the press, stems and all.

#10: Gary and me distributing the Sauv Blanc clusters into the press.

#10: Gary and me distributing the Sauv Blanc clusters into the press.

#11: Closing the press to crush the clusters into juice.

#11: Closing the press to crush the clusters into juice.

#12: Sauvignon Blanc juice flowing from the pan, through a hose & pump into the tank.

#12: Sauvignon Blanc juice flowing from the pan, through a hose & pump into the tank: delicious!

#13: Pomace, grape skins, seeds and raichus (stems) dumped from the press after the juice has been extracted.  We shovel it into a waiting bin.

#13: Pomace, grape skins, seeds and rachis (stems) dumped from the press after the juice has been extracted. We shovel it into a waiting bin.

#14: A full tank of juice: several press-fulls of juice, hours of work!

#14: A full tank of juice: several press-fulls of juice and hours of work!

#15: Preparing the yeast for inoculation of the juice.  The temperature of the juice and the yeast must be close enough to not shock the yeast.

#15: Preparing the yeast for inoculation of the juice. The temperature of the juice and the yeast must be close enough to not shock the yeast.

#16: 1:30 AM, the crush pad and equipment is clean, we took a sample of the juice to bring to the Lab for analysis, and Jason is inoculating the Sauvignon Blanc.

#16: (1:30 AM) The crush pad and equipment is clean, we took a sample of the juice to bring to the Lab for analysis, and Jason is inoculating the Sauvignon Blanc.

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine making | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

And Plans are made to change

Walla Walla Pinot Gris grapes.

Walla Walla Pinot Gris grapes.

Walla Walla Dolchetto grapes.

Walla Walla Dolchetto grapes.

I would think everyone has heard “Life is what happens while we are busy making plans” by now; that is how Crush 2014 is starting for us.  Friday morning the flatbed truck that was scheduled back in January, repeating the order from the previous year, was interpreted as a box truck by the rental company!  I took my midterm, blithely unaware of this hiccup, and discovered my afternoon wasn’t going to be booked after all.  It frustrated me to know the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were hanging, ready and ripe for us to begin crush as we had planned.  Texting my husband with requests for him to see if his employer had a truck or trailer we could borrow, texting the wine maker, Jason, with my different ideas and questions probably didn’t make either one of them happy with me as both were busy.  Thankfully, Jason was able to redeem the afternoon – we took samples from the local vineyards!

Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Dolchetto, and Cabernet Sauvignon grape samples.

Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Dolchetto, and Cabernet Sauvignon grape samples.

Juice samples ready to be tested for Brix, TA and pH.

Juice samples ready to be tested for Brix, TA and pH.

Picking four samples from three vineyards we headed back to the Locati Farm where Locati Cellar wines are made.  Crushing the sample bags, running acid and pH levels.  When we discovered the densitometer had grown legs we had to press as much juice from each of the sample bags as we could to use the hydrometer to get Brix.  Note to self, always get a sample large enough to use a hydrometer!  Locally the acid levels were running high and Brix were still too low, so we know we aren’t going to have more than one grape to crush at a time right now.

Saturday morning we were able to borrow a trailer to bring the bins to Sagemoor

Bins delivered to Sagemoor Vineyards, now it is time to go play for a while.

Bins delivered to Sagemoor Vineyards, now it is time to go play for a while.

Vineyards to be retrieved Monday mid-morning.  Being so close to Red Mountain AVA the three of us decided to spend some time at the local wineries exploring the Red Mountain AVA fruit at the source.  Five wineries, some lunch and lots of craziness ensued as we visited with each proprietor or staff member and sipped the offerings.  From a very new, young couple with the zeal and energy to push their dreams forward to some of the oldest vineyards on the southwest facing slope being made into wine by those responsible for planting them.  It was a good learning decision; it was a great experience.  We will have to make time to visit a few wineries we didn’t have time for this time.

Sunrise as we head into the vineyard in search of Syrah.

Sunrise as we head into the vineyard in search of Syrah.

Sunday morning, bright and early, a few of us headed into a small vineyard to thin fruit.  This entails removing the majority of the grapes from the vineyard to give the remaining fruit time to really ripen and hand the fruit.

It was several hours with four of us working.  Then it was time to clean and move equipment at the Lagana crush pad so we are really ready for the fruit.  Now we pronounce ourselves ‘ready’ for fruit; now we expect the flatbed trailer to show up this morning so we can bring back our fruit to press.  Monday will not start before dawn, but it will certainly be a late night.

Cheers!

Posted in Viticulture and Enology, Wine making | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments