Sunday, October 26, 2008


Mother Gophers must love their gopher young, right? Badgers and coyotes love gophers...on a Ritz, perhaps? I do not appreciate gophers. They are my enemy. I long for the gentle thumping Gophernator2000. Every grape farmer knows that Caddyshack was no comedy. Caddyshack is a tragedy. We understand. Go get them Carl Spackler...never give up...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Primary Fermentation Complete-

The purple hands are proof. The hydrometer and refractometer agree...we have wine! (In fact, I'm sipping at some right now. Opaque, with deep blood red coloration and fruit coming through. The acids are there, but not too much so.)

My feet are a little cold, ankles still wet, shirt clammy from spray coming off the bladder press. What a wonder Karen is for lending a hand and all her equipment! She is amazing. I cannot imagine what a pain in the neck this must all be for her and never a complaint. Must make very good wine for the right "Thank You!"

All in all, not major mistakes. Very nearly broke three fingers as they came close to getting caught between a shifting bin and the metal edge on the dolly. Tried to force open the press without relieving the pressure and might well have lost some teeth in that move. But no worries...all in one piece, happy and taking another big sip!

Sue snapped lots of fun pictures. Malolactic fermentation is underway to soften the acids and round out the mouthfeel. Picking the cab in another nine days and certain to feel like a seasoned winemaker when that goes to crush. I honestly never anticipated making wine...always thought that Stan and his students would be the main drivers in this I wouldn't miss it for the world. Man, I miss Stan. Right this minute he could probably finally convince me to start taking his classes (he had been working on me for years).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bringing in the Syrah

Mojo time! Brought in three hundred pounds of syrah yesterday, crushing until 10 PM and getting ready to pitch yeast tonight. Getting the lingo down..."pitching yeast" and running tests for TA (total acidity) 8.0, brix (sugar levels) 24, PH 3.38. Waiting another two weeks before bringing in the cabernet...the cool spring has dictated a very late harvest for cab.
So here is the plan: making two blends, "The Twins", named for Shane and Connor, of course. Fraternal twins intended to be enjoyed side-by-side, one a syrah-dominant blend with our cab, the other a cab-dominant blend with our syrah. Shooting for big flavors and mouth feel and tamping down the fruit just a bit since the acid levels should be trying to bring the fruit forward bigtime anyway. The boys are into it...I can imagine the Connor could easily be bringing a case to his fraternity house and Shane could build a house party around his wine...just realized that they will both be turning 21 right about the time these are ready to drink.
Beautiful crisp weather. Lots of pheasants running around. Neighbors have been baling straw, apparently destined for use in mushroom-growing. A red hawk has been hanging out on the wind day after day, not a bit afraid of cruising forty feet around us.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I have a deep reassurance in having land, a comfort that comes from a deep well and good cold water, open horizons. That ease and security was in the abstract a month ago, touching my innermost soul yet telling me that I'm a throwback. appreciating times before history was written and civilizations were made. Amazing how quickly things have changed. Having this land has become fundamental, practical, immediate. At Grape Hill we are several solar panels away from power and water independence. This land can support crops and grazing animals, too.
A month ago I had an idea for cattle collars with GPS chips inside and wireless reception so that I could program the chips to shock cattle into herding in remote comntrolled, pre-set computerized directions...letting us have grazing animals without putting up fences. A whimsical notion!
In just a month what we thought of as silly certainly changed and those computerized chips sound mighty practical. Nobody likes turning on the TV and having leaders scaring the crap out of us. Having a good bit of land makes those guys seem pretty small.