Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The tasting room for the winery is almost finished! and only 9 months and 1 week behind schedule

27 September,
I have been taking care of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot wines, which are the only 2 not pressed thus far.  The analyses of the first wines make me laugh as the alcohol content for the Merlot is over 16 and the Pecorino 15.7!  The Montepulciano harvest will be Saturday and that will finish the work in the vineyard for the year.  Then comes the olive harvest the following week as everything this year is about 2 weeks ahead of last year.
Here are the photos of the almost finished tasting rooms.
last March


I have swept and mopped the floors of the tasting room, put together 14 chairs and 2 tables from Ikea,
the main hall

some of the views from inside

the marble bar will go in front of the stools

the winter wine tasting station

the future kitchen

bought another 2 tables from my Thailand connection, and the fancy lamp from Germany has its first "note" written by my american guests from Fernwood, CA.

 Today, I finished picking up all the empty cigarette packages, plastic tubing, wood and brick pieces, and the rest of the trash the construction workers have thrown out in the last 20 months.  Then, I  cleaned all the windows, which was quite the job as there was old paint splashed on them, stickers to remove and a few months of dust.  The pictures need to be hung and the marble bar needs to be mounted, but the latter 2 are scheduled for tomorrow and voila'.
view from the "kitchen"

table for 8?

finally the doors are on

I think it is time to have a pre-inauguration party on Saturday night for all the folks who helped me pick the grapes this year!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 update on harvesting and fermentations

18 Sept.
The Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested last Monday with 8 helpers so I could finish in one day.  It was a 10 hour job with a yield about twice last year's.  The must is still fermenting, but should finish tomorrow which is a bit slower than the other reds, but I think perhaps Roberto either added less yeast or less nutrient to slow things down a bit.  The danger with a fermentation which is too fast is you might lose some color and complexity, so I am happier with the C.S. being a bit slower than the reds which preceded it.   The Pecorino has finished its fermentation and is now being chilled and will be racked off its lees next week.  The Cabernet Franc and Merlot will be pressed next week, probably on Tuesday and then will rest for a while.
Roberto d'Angelo manning the press last year
 I harvested the Incrocio (meaning 'cross' between Verdicchio and Sauvignon Blanc)  Bruni 54 grapes which had all turned to raisins and spent 10 hour hand pressing the grapes in that little press you read about in the previous post.  For 5 days, it just would not initiate its fermentation; Roberto had tried to start it by adding actively fermenting Pecorino must.  When that didn't work, he added a newly prepared yeast and it has metabolized the sugar from 30 degrees to 12 degrees, so I am guessing it will stop at about 8-10 degrees, as those yeast will not be able to ferment more than that before things get toxic for them.  That leaves the Syrah which has also finished its fermentation and will probably get pressed late week or early next week.  My masterful plan to pick the Petit Verdot, which wasn't quite ready last Wednesday, is to harvest it on Friday after 2 days of much needed rain tomorrow and Tuesday (I hope).  The last harvest will be the Montepulciano and Lord willing, that will be the last weekend of the month to correspond with the arrival of my foreign pickers (from London and Lagomaggiore).
Somewhere towards the end of the month, my head winemaker, Roberto Potentini (another Roberto), who hasn't really been involved in this year's decision making, will come down to taste last year's and this year's wines and I am thinking it may be time to extract my Pecorino from its tonneau and 2 barrels and mix those 3 back in with the 1000 liters, which stayed in stainless, to make the blend for bottling.  I am excited about that one as it is coming around nicely like the swan in the ugly duckling fable.
The olives are suffering and looking like little old men who smoked and worked in the sun all their lives, if you know what I mean (a bit wrinkled)  This 46 day drought and heat wave (every day over 86) has been brutal for them, the grass and every other living thing which requires water to live and is another reason I am hoping  for rain.  The Olive Tenere, which is the variety used to make the special Ascoli stuffed olives will be ready to harvest this week and the rain should help plump them up.  I am shooting for Thursday for that job.
I have hosted guests from Belgium, Canada and Italy the last week and as always, they helped keep me sane and were wonderful folks.  The North Americans continue this week, which should be fun.
Today was pretty much the last day of summer weather,  if the forecast holds, so I asked my neighbors and their kids over to swim and have a bbq-KC style.  It is great to have nice neighbors and the kids really enjoyed their time in the water and with Bacco while the adults gave swimming lessons, caught some rays or relaxed and read.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Offida Opera Festival, wine update

10 Sept.
Can you believe Offida has an Opera festival?!  The talent is stellar; I attended a concert in the old monastery of St. Francis which is now the site of our regional wine store (where our wines are now being offered) and enjoyed the music thoroughly.  They had 5 singers who sang old classic arias, classic italian numbers and a few international songs from their own countries.  This was followed by "food of the Marche" upon which I would rather not comment, accompanied by some of  the local Passerina wines.

The wines are coming along in their tanks, with the Merlot having finished its fermentation, the Cabernet Franc to finish today or tomorrow followed by the Pecorino in 2-3 days and finally the Syrah.  The Passito has still not taken off as the yeast are too high on all the sugar to reproduce.  Monday I will harvest the Cabernet Sauvignon which should be my biggest or second biggest crop along with the Montepulciano.  I have analyzed the grapes many times as I am worried about making a "vegetal" Cab if I pick too early, but the total acid content of the grapes is dropping, the brix is correct and the juice tastes good, so here goes.
Pumping the wine onto the skins for color extraction and to keep the skins damp

The destemmer/crusher which then sends the grapes and must to the tanks

Comparing this year to last, the Pecorino was harvested 20 days earlier, the Merlot 13, the Cab. Fr. 11, the Syrah 16 and the Cab. S. 11 days earlier. In the Offida area, we have had a string of about 40 days without rain with temperatures always above 31 C.  With luck, this string will be broken in the middle of next week, leaving the Petit Verdot and the Montepulciano to harvest in cooler weather.
The pool is still open, so come on over and visit; the water is fine!  It is just about time for the north americans to visit, a great time to watch work in the winery, and the grape and olive harvests.
Finally, remembrances and prayers to all the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  I still remember walking into the surgeon's lounge at RMC in time to see the 2nd plane hit the other tower.  It is something I have trouble watching again.  Peace to all!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A strange year for the grapevines is coming to a close

4 September

The tourist season will officially be over tomorrow when the last guests leave and I would like to thank everyone who came to visit this year!  I have been busy doing all the tasks around the place, trying to keep pace with ripening grapes, the B&B, the lawn, a bit of baking for the guests etc.
A recap of the growing season which I am sure has caused not a few of my hairs to fall out:  Spring started with torrential rains which eroded deep ruts in the Pecorino and washed my neighbors "terra" onto ours in other parts.  The ruts were repaired and flowering came a bit late but was quite strong and the grapes set nicely.  In the early part of the evolution of the little grapes the first hailstorm on our property in 5 years arrived and damaged about 20% of the little grapes with some falling off and others bruised.  This put a stop to the plants' growth for a good 7-14 days as they recovered from the shock.  Shortly after a heat wave arrived with temperatures soaring into the upper 90's which further inhibited growth of the plants as their stomata closed up to conserve moisture.  A few, again torrential,  rains followed to green everything up and start the growing cycle again.  The last rain was in the first days of August and since then there has been a continual run of 30 degree + days until finally the Bruni 54 clone became all raisins and the Pecorino matured 16 days earlier than last year followed shortly thereafter by the Merlot.  The prior was harvested on 31 August at a high Brix level, but with a normal pH and good total acid levels and the Merlot, similarly, was well balanced in its analysis, but the grapes were quite dehydrated.  Total volume looks to be about 1500 liters of Pecorino, very little! and about 3500 liters of Merlot, which is better than last year.  With good fortune, the skin/must ratio being quite high will give me a complex, though alcoholic wine.  Both are bubbling away in their fermentation right now and the Cabernet Franc is calling out to be harvested tomorrow.

My work in the vineyard started in late February with pruning and tying and ended a week ago Friday with the last of the green harvest where I cut away less than beautiful or too abundant grape clusters.  It was a busy year!

I did have time for a Monday hike with Bacco in the by now familiar to my readers Gola dell'Infernaccio and he had a wonderful time playing in the waters of the little river.

Finally, I just finished my final exam in my winemaking course from UC-Davis, this time "Wine Stability", so maybe I will have more time to update the blog.

The pictures are all from the gola and this last one shows the monk who has built the church high up on the mountain stone by stone all by himself ala St. Francis.