2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

Discussions and questions (vintages, winemaking, etc) for those ITB. All are welcome to post.
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Merrill Lindquist
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#401 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 29th, 2017, 5:12 pm

107-109 degrees is not something to look forward to. My vines and fruit look strong, but who knows how they will react to that. Will be here keeping an eye.
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#402 Post by Nolan E » August 29th, 2017, 7:39 pm

Roy Piper wrote:
Merrill Lindquist wrote:
Roy - why would you be disappointed to come in before October 1? I don't think it matters what the calendar says, just what the fruit and vines are telling you.
Sugar will rise as fast as heat permits. But sugar and ripeness are not the same to me. When I taste fruit I can separate out sugar from flavor and I find when it is really hot, sugar will run ahead of flavor. It's not inconceivable that sugar could be 26 and flavor more like 23.5. Another way is to watch pH. In hot years I think it says more than brix. I find flavor more to my liking when fruit on the vine is at least 3.6-3.7 pH.
Do you acidify, then? What's you pH after malo?
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#403 Post by Casey Hartlip » August 30th, 2017, 9:20 am

Day 3 Gewurtz delivered to Navarro. My 38th year in a row taking fruit to these folks.
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#404 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 30th, 2017, 2:30 pm

38 years, Casey! I would say they love what you do for them.
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#405 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 30th, 2017, 2:33 pm

Thermometer on the shaded deck here at the house just hit 90. A relief of a day.

This morning's walk of the vineyard showed some mild shrivel on exposed clusters. Not a lot - but I did not walk the entire vineyard.

Flavors are decent, fruit not sweet, mostly green seeds with some going to brown.
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#406 Post by Joe Webb » August 30th, 2017, 3:34 pm

Did another round of cluster samples this am and called 2 picks for next week, Wed and Fri, for PN. Not excited about the heat but we fared pretty well during the last round. Sugars spike up then stabilized for 2-3 days when it cooled off. Last 2 days we had heavy fog and much cooler weather. I have been doing crop estimates when doing the cluster samples. Not looking average at all, well see when it hits the scale but its looking more like '15 than '16. Hearing preliminary mumblings about 10-20% below '16.

Whites still a ways off. Well have 1-2 more picks the following week for blocks further behind. Looks like the weather will cool off big time after this weekend.

Pulled out all the fermentors, destemmer, and wooden basket for the press today. This weekend everything will get cleaned including the winery floors and drains.

Some picking for still wine already started. I won't be the first this year like I was for 10 of the 12('17) vintages we have made wine. Double ruining and normal to normal plus rain seems to put us back 1-2 weeks, which I like.
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#407 Post by Casey Hartlip » August 30th, 2017, 6:36 pm

Starting to get some momentum. Today was 10 tons of Gewurtz for Navarro and then switched over to sparkling Chard for 8 tons. Were done by noon.

Tomorrow a bit more with 6 tons of Pinot Gris for Navarro and then 15 tons of Chard for bubbles. Some Pinot customers have been testing and luckily finding 21's which is great because we can't get there anyway.
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#408 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 31st, 2017, 8:58 am

A beautiful and cool morning starting at 54 degrees! Nice cooling off before the climb starts.

I walked more of the vineyard this morning, and tasted and tasted and tasted. Nice flavors from the cool berries, some browning seeds (key is to feel the crunch as you chew and then take a look). Some bird peck, so I put up some mylar. Some shrivel here and there, but livable.
Who knows what will happen after some continuous days of 110 degrees.
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#409 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 31st, 2017, 9:02 am

Whoa...good sized earthquake just now. Shake rattle and roll, not the slam the door type. Mirrors and pictures on the walls on the second floor were jumping!

Just got recorded: 3.6 with Calistoga as the center. I felt that!
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#410 Post by William Segui » August 31st, 2017, 9:41 am

Merrill Lindquist wrote:Whoa...good sized earthquake just now. Shake rattle and roll, not the slam the door type. Mirrors and pictures on the walls on the second floor were jumping!

Just got recorded: 3.6 with Calistoga as the center. I felt that!
They are building a massive house across the street, so I thought the first little shake was related to that. The one good pop -- that left me wondering what on earth was going on. Just off of Franz Valley School Road, not far at all.

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#411 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 31st, 2017, 3:12 pm

This is what Bostonians would call "a wicked bad day at the office." Unfortunately, it is going to be a wicked bad one for several days.

Diamond Mountain is shrouded in smoke. My view from here is normally stellar. Right now it is as if the fog is up there, except it is smoke. And 100 degrees. No idea where the fire is.

No water. Gotta buy 3500 gallons to get through this.

Watch your paycheck shrivel on the vine. It's like walking into your boss's office and he tells you you are going to take a 50% cut in pay. Effective immediately.

Ok, rant over. I usually look at the bright side of things here at the ranch, but it feels dismal right now.

Perhaps Champagne will do the trick. champagne.gif
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#412 Post by Kim Z » August 31st, 2017, 7:51 pm

Merrill I don't know you, but sorry to hear about your troubles.

We have a small vineyard in Ventura County, CA, with Syrah and Grenache. Up until the current heat event, we were on schedule to harvest with "about right" ripeness next week. But tonight I see lots of shriveling Syrah...and now I'm trying to move the pick up to this weekend. And given the likelihood we can't move the pick up, lots of water going down right now.

My brother has been helping lately in the vineyard. He said that wine critics should get a taste of this (very hard work / capriciousness of nature) before issuing their haughty scores. Amen, I say.

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#413 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 31st, 2017, 8:37 pm

Someone asked me today what will happen if the crop gives up? I will at least get a barrel. 1/2 ton. Most know that I am not afraid to pick on the earlier side of things, but this fruit is not ready to go now.
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#414 Post by Evan Pontoriero » August 31st, 2017, 9:25 pm

Very tricky vintage. Seeing a lot of fruit getting picked to try and beat this heat. I wonder how many actually tasted before making that call? We front-loaded a lot of water before the wave hit so at least our pinot and chard will get through this without blinking. Russian River and Dry Creek are another story, nail biting start to the season.
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#415 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 1st, 2017, 8:30 am

It's a cool morning, thank goodness, here in Calistoga. Both weather services I use are saying today, Saturday and Sunday are the hump to get over (around 110 degrees). If the fruit can get through that, then I might be looking at later next week - hard to tell with this extreme stuff going on.

Champagne and a night's sleep bring optimism!

A 6:45 call this morning told me the water company will not deliver unless I have had a bunch of limbs taken down over my driveway. Not going to happen this morning, so I am on my own. I still have water coming from the well...I just need to be more frugal than ever. All vines have had a 6 hour drip this week, so I will continue the rotation of a few rows at a time. All I can do.

A quick quick check just now found, of course, that the soft, punky berries bounced back in the coolness of the overnight. The clusters that have given up have given up. But I have some of that every year.

And on we go til harvest!
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#416 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 1st, 2017, 10:09 am

All dressed up and not enough to do. Picked 13 tons of sparkling Pinot by 9:15 this morning. Wish we had more tons to pick. Winery capacity and trucking are the issues here. Same thing coming the next two mornings.

Still watering fields as we can
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#417 Post by Roy Piper » September 1st, 2017, 11:43 pm

Beautiful vineyard, Casey!
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#418 Post by Roy Piper » September 1st, 2017, 11:44 pm

Today was hell on Earth in Napa. 114F at 3:30pm in St Helena, briefly. Might actually be more hot tomorrow!
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#419 Post by Bdklein » September 2nd, 2017, 5:19 am

Any thoughts of the influence of smoke/wildfires, primarily up the coast?
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#420 Post by Eric Lundblad » September 2nd, 2017, 11:18 am

The smoke in Napa, Sonoma & similar was for a few days and has cleared or is clearing. So there should be no smoke taint issues with such a short exposure. The folks up in Humboldt are having a harder time unfortunately :(
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#421 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 2nd, 2017, 12:40 pm

I'm going.

Made the decision at 9:00 this morning.

Winery can take early Monday morning when I bring the fruit in? Yes.
First rate Vineyard Management crew available for picking and trucking 6:00 Monday morning? Yes!

3-1/2 hours later they are hauling away my 1/2 ton bins to be cleaned up and ready. I have no water, so they will take them offsite to prep them.

Putting together my sorting/quality control crew. Not easy on such short notice, but it usually works out.

First piece of reality is the forklift parked out at the entrance to the vineyard.
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#422 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 2nd, 2017, 1:35 pm

An unexpected day off tomorrow. The winery we were picking for has a broken press. Of course had to get everyone to push back a day. Text messaging sure is handy to tell my picking crew the news.
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#423 Post by Eric Lundblad » September 2nd, 2017, 1:37 pm

Congrats Merrill...hope it all goes smoothly. I'm sure it will.

How will this rank in terms of early/late pick date for you?

Great looking fruit Casey
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#424 Post by Eric Lundblad » September 2nd, 2017, 1:40 pm

I brought in some chardonnay last Friday (i.e. Aug 25th). It's now barrel fermenting at ~69 degrees. Glad it's cooler than I am! It was an early pick and should get bottled in the low 12% alc range. Interested to see how it turns out.

I wasn't looking to make a very low alc chard...but I liked the acid numbers and the taste of the fruit, so I went for it. Sure glad I picked when I did....wow!
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#425 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 2nd, 2017, 1:51 pm

Eric Lundblad wrote:Congrats Merrill...hope it all goes smoothly. I'm sure it will.

How will this rank in terms of early/late pick date for you?

Great looking fruit Casey
I am going on the least amount of data than I ever have. But when it is in your backyard, it's hard to ignore the signs.

Earliest pick was August 22 in 2015. Just bottled 3 months ago, but initial showings are excellent for infants.

Done a couple of August 30 in 2007 and 2014 - both showing well.

09/11/2001...need I say more?

Some Sept. 21, 22, 26, 29.

2011 was latest at Oct. 3. Lowest Brix, too.

2008, 2013, 2016 - Sept 3-5.

So the only thing I am nervous about is this extreme heat today and tomorrow.
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#426 Post by Roy Piper » September 3rd, 2017, 4:43 pm

My pHs are 3.3-3.4 and TA is 7.5-8. Acids are too high. Brix already are 24+ And running well ahead of flavors.

I am aiming for 3 weeks out minimum almost no matter what because I want to get the acids down and they take longer to go down than brix to go up.

This is not a great situation.
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#427 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 3rd, 2017, 6:40 pm

Good call Roy. It's gonna drop down by 10-15 degrees in a couple of days. The fruit will surely 'catch it's breath' after the heat. Sugars might even drop a bit with a few cool mornings. Flavors will likely equalize with the numbers too.
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#428 Post by Stewart Johnson » September 3rd, 2017, 10:34 pm

I was at 22 brix last week, and the winery I sell to was inclined to pick ASAP with this godawful heat bearing down. I told them I thought my vines could get thru it and that we should play for a lag in the week that should follow. I just hate picking during a brix spike and try to catch the grapes at the end of a cool stretch. Plus, nothing but the brix seemed very far along. I've been irrigating like never before, and I'm still worried that I may have overestimated the ability of my canopy to weather this blast. I'm starting to see some dehydration. It's not just insanely hot; it feels like we're in Nevada, the air is so dry. It's Burning Man without the nudity out there. A really nice post-veraison season just got shot to hell. Maybe I'll be vindicated after a few days back in the 70s, but right now I'm kicking myself for not taking the easy route and picking before my tonnage evaporated.
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#429 Post by Roy Piper » September 3rd, 2017, 11:00 pm

I might be singing a different tune if I had Pinot out there. Cab is its own animal. I tasted a few Pinot vineyards two days ago. Some seemed close to ready and it would have been a hard decisions. And about half seemed not ready at all. A few were already raisining a bit.
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#430 Post by Joe Webb » September 4th, 2017, 1:26 pm

What a a week and the next one is going to get interesting. We ran heat suppression, overhead rain birds, the last 3 days during the triple digit heat. Thanks to mother nature for recharging our pond in the spring and giving us the lightest frost season we have had, leaving us extra water. We usually get 2-3 triple digit days a year, this year were at 9, and a couple days at 99. Definitely a unique season.

We have several pick dates for the vineyard, we started this am for a client. We will have our first PN fruit on Wednesday after the first cool night we have had in a while.
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#431 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 4th, 2017, 2:36 pm

I keep trying to post, but there is some funky stuff going on.

Great crew from Clark Vineyard Management. Best crew in my 18 years. Very clean pick.

New recruits Joe and Michelle from MA were here at 6:00 a.m. and eager to dig in and participate, contribute, and learn. Many, many thanks!

Short, short yield.

High Brix for me: 26.5B.

Other labs pending. The cellar crew has this now. I will be checking in, of course, but I have no experience nor interest in managing the fermentation process. They do it well for me!

Go Red Sox!
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#432 Post by Roy Piper » September 4th, 2017, 4:37 pm

Your vines did pretty well Merrill to only be 26.5 brix up in Calistoga. Vineyards in the south are at that level already in spots.

I worry that yields are even less than they look. I think they look higher than 2015 for me but not as good as last year. Which was not even average. The last good year I've seen for yields was 2013.
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#433 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 4th, 2017, 4:51 pm

It is RAINING!!!
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#434 Post by Roy Piper » September 4th, 2017, 5:03 pm

I just got in from San Jose. It was windy and a quick heavy drizzle there after being 107F yesterday. Wonky.

I'll take this. High humidity and hopefully enough water to wash the dirt off.
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#435 Post by N Weis » September 4th, 2017, 6:17 pm

So far this season for me:

Sauv blanc had a really nice year. Good yields, perfect chemistry with nice flavors. Lots of 22.5-23 with 7 g/L and 3.2-3.3ish pHs. Right over the plate.

We started hitting Pinot hard a few weeks ago and essentially filled the winery in about 10 days. Twomey was part of IPOB and very much makes wine in that style, so we got on it early and *mostly* stayed ahead of it. One could not irrigate one's way out of that weather in most of Sonoma County. Talking to a few large VM companies, they've been going 24 hours the last 10 days or so. Letting Deep End Pinot hang for a while. Sugars are in striking distance (21-22) but flavors aren't there and malics (3-4 g/L) tell me that the flavors are correct. Putting some water on and also letting the winery empty some tanks. Oregon (Dundee) seems to be end of the month or so but could sneak up into the 20th range.

Haven't done much with Bordeauxs in either Napa or Sonoma counties. Merlot starting to come on and much will get picked this week. Cab canopies and berry integrity look great considering the circumstances and I fully intend to let most of them relocate their equilibrium this week. Not a hang time guy, so my guess is we'll start to work our way through them next week into the end of September.

SB yields were up. Pinot yields about at estimate which is more or less historical average. Tough to tell with Bordeauxs thus far, but my intuition all year has been that this is a decent-sized crop....bigger than 15 or 16 for sure, but not at the 12-14 level. The responses I've seen from chemistry and visuals in the field tells me that's mostly still true provided things rehydrate a bit now.

It has been an "earn your $" sort of year. Huge soil moisture early + a record number of heatwaves this summer meant, depending on your site and soil texture, you maybe irrigated earlier than ever or maybe still haven't yet. It's been a season that has totally exacerbated the individual differences. We have some big GDC vines on 039-16 in Alexander Valley that didn't receive any water until August (!) and some shallow-rooted 4x6 VSP sites in Napa that had to get water in May to reach the top wire.
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#436 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 4th, 2017, 7:30 pm

Geeze Nate my man crush continues. For a winemaker you speak fluent farmer. As much as we tried to irritate vines the last 3 days have knocked the shit out of some blocks. Hoping like crazy that a few cool days will restore some balance to all this fruit that got zapped. Even if we could pick 40 tons a day, I'm still going to disappoint some customers over the next 14 days.
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#437 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 4th, 2017, 7:32 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:I keep trying to post, but there is some funky stuff going on.

Great crew from Clark Vineyard Management. Best crew in my 18 years. Very clean pick.

New recruits Joe and Michelle from MA were here at 6:00 a.m. and eager to dig in and participate, contribute, and learn. Many, many thanks!

Short, short yield.

High Brix for me: 26.5B.

Other labs pending. The cellar crew has this now. I will be checking in, of course, but I have no experience nor interest in managing the fermentation process. They do it well for me!

Go Red Sox!
I guess will do some 'adjusting' to those sugar levels. 26+ brix would be over 15 all?
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#438 Post by N Weis » September 4th, 2017, 8:35 pm

Aw shucks, Casey.

We have some really good farmers in our company. I guess my revolutionary strategy has worked....I listen to and try to learn from them
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#439 Post by Paul Gordon » September 4th, 2017, 9:25 pm

We peaked at 100F on Saturday. Some desiccation, likely lost 5%. Cooler and nice humidity/cloud cover the last two days.
Sampled this afternoon and we are 18-19b on our Syrah. Tiny berries - clearly the stress of the last 10 days has had an effect.
Hitting the vines hard with water and hoping they bounce back. The forecast is promising - highs in 70s, lows in 50s for thru Saturday. Just need 3-4 weeks of moderate weather.
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#440 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 5th, 2017, 7:47 am

Casey Hartlip wrote:
Merrill Lindquist wrote:I keep trying to post, but there is some funky stuff going on.

Great crew from Clark Vineyard Management. Best crew in my 18 years. Very clean pick.

New recruits Joe and Michelle from MA were here at 6:00 a.m. and eager to dig in and participate, contribute, and learn. Many, many thanks!

Short, short yield.

High Brix for me: 26.5B.

Other labs pending. The cellar crew has this now. I will be checking in, of course, but I have no experience nor interest in managing the fermentation process. They do it well for me!

Go Red Sox!
I guess will do some 'adjusting' to those sugar levels. 26+ brix would be over 15 all?
Yes, when we get the full results today from the offsite lab, we will make a water addition.
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#441 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 5th, 2017, 7:58 am

It is an odd morning here in Calistoga. It stayed pretty warm overnight, and only started to cool a while ago. Some pretty strong breezes are coming in and it FEELS cooler. But it is around 70 degrees. Grey and cloudy and humid feeling.

Last evening's rain was a brief rain shower. For me and my property, I would welcome rain. But for my fellow growers and wineries, I hope it does not rain. We all rely on each other to create a good vintage for our customers.
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#442 Post by timmy roos » September 5th, 2017, 8:15 am

We were 109 and 111 Friday Saturday. Picked sb Friday. Finished saturday
Things are getting funny these day

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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#443 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 5th, 2017, 10:52 am

Entering crisis mode. Probably have 200 tons of fruit ready but can only pick 30-35 tons a day. People are starting to yell at me....not just the pickers!
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#444 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 5th, 2017, 4:32 pm

Well, I got the labs back and we are not going to adjust anything. I don't know why we thought the Brix were higher yesterday; one thought is that we stopped about 2/3rds the way through, took the brix, and then continued. The guys pick the rows and put them in the bins. The later bins were from the rows to the east - a weaker part/later ripening of the vineyard. Who knows.

From the offsite lab:

Brix: 24.5
Titratable Acid: 5.3
Tartaric: 3.9
Malic: 1.7
ph: 3.44
potassium: 1460
glucose/fructose: 267.8
ammonia: 27
nitrogen: 89

And there you have it.
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#445 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 5th, 2017, 5:40 pm

We are looking and talking again, and with some private input from some others, we are going to make a small water addition.

I would not post if I did not welcome feedback/input!
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#446 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 5th, 2017, 6:55 pm

I think I saw 5 winemakers today. They either had the 'deer in the headlights' look, or like they were going to a funeral. Either way we feel screwed. The past 5 days have had a serious effect on the fruit. Today was supposed to be cooler but wasn't. We cranked out 34 tons of Chard. Some members of the crew overdid it and needed to sit down for a few mins. Big day tomorrow. I'm not liking this.
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#447 Post by Roy Piper » September 5th, 2017, 7:52 pm

My advice, Merrill, for what it's worth, is give it 3 days of cold soaking. The brix will probably rise every day and then peak out. And from that point, calculate the needed water add. But maybe add just 2/3 max of what you calculate or be conservative with the calculation. In 2013 and 2015, drought years, I saw a good amount of people make the calc, add all the water, and then overshoot the add and wind up with lower alcohol than they wanted due to lower juice per ton than estimated. When I add water, I do about 2/3 up front when brix peak. Or calculate 135 or 140 gallons per ton and do it all at once. Ask the guy at the winery how he would do it and see if you feel comfy with it.
Last edited by Roy Piper on September 5th, 2017, 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#448 Post by Roy Piper » September 5th, 2017, 7:56 pm

Casey Hartlip wrote:I think I saw 5 winemakers today. They either had the 'deer in the headlights' look, or like they were going to a funeral. Either way we feel screwed. The past 5 days have had a serious effect on the fruit. Today was supposed to be cooler but wasn't. We cranked out 34 tons of Chard. Some members of the crew overdid it and needed to sit down for a few mins. Big day tomorrow. I'm not liking this.
I am worried the leaves are gonna turn yellow. I need the canopy to hang in there.
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#449 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 6th, 2017, 8:55 am

Fog has returned to the valley for now at least
IMG_20170906_065352486.jpg
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#450 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 6th, 2017, 3:50 pm

Fermenting in 1 ton bins again this year. Have not done that in awhile. Low tonnage made that decision for me.

I love to see my fruit in there at eye level - when it is in tank, I can't see it. What you lose when you go bins versus tank is the inability to control the temperature during fermentation.

I tasted that funky stuff today. Gorgeous color (if I do say so myself, this tiny vineyard just offers exquisite color, naturally). And funky taste. If I remember correctly (we only do this once per year!), the sweetest spot is around 15 Brix. So during the fermentation process, the sugar (Brix) decreases as the sugar converts to alcohol.

I found myself in my neighbor's vineyard this morning. It is just one row over. It is hard to send my kids off to kindergarten, so I will visit those next door to ease the transition. [cheers.gif]
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