Sunday, October 24, 2010

Young Chardonnay Fermentation, Cabernet and Old Vine Chardonnay Harvest

David and John in the Cave, trying to keep warm as they examine the Chardonnay fermenting in barrel (35mm film image)

John wishes that he'd made the whole crop into wine under our label, rather than selling most of it to Newton Winery (35mm film image)

Fermenting in barrel means that we have to watch for overflow from the vigorously-bubbling juice

Winemaker David scattering rose pedals, our not so secret ingredient, on the just-picked Cabernet

A novice picker happily celebrating her work

Hauling the Cabernet up from the Palladian vineyard to the crushing area

Autumn is also the time to pick and sun-dry our local red pepper crop

Our ancient truck hauling 18 empty half-ton bins. In the distance, the Napa Wine Train and the hills east of St. Helena

On the Silverado trail during a cool and cloudy Autumn afternoon. The rain threatens, but we were ready to get our work done just in time.

Detritus of the muddy vineyard tracks

Stephen's truck hauls a couple of half-ton bins in the upper part of our vineyard. Downhill beyond the vineyard can be seen the Pavilion House and Heron Lake.

At the end of the harvest day, October 22nd-- damp but the real rains came during the next two days.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pinot Noir Fermentation and First Chardonnay Harvest

Bits of frozen carbon dioxide sit atop the Pinot Noir, waiting to be punched in to cool the mass. Each 7 pounds will cool a ton of grapes by 1 degree F.

Taking the temperature of the cooling mass of crushed grapes

Of course frozen CO2 is a marvelous way to cool our lunch drinks

Moving a ton of grapes in the lovely Fall afternoon while Matt films for a documentary

Stephen punching down the fermenting Pinot Noir

Different size bottles on our plank. Our mnemonic for remembering the names of these winebottles: "Seeing her breasts might just make some boys nervous" (Split:Half:Bottle:Magnum:Jeroboam:Methuselah:Salmanazar:Balthazar:Nebudchadnezzar)

John unhooks the netting so that the pickers (and not the birds) can get at the grapes

Here's where we crushed our Chardonnay, at our neighbor's winery

John does a bit of punching-down of the Chardonnay grapes-- grapes that have already been crushed but, with water and yeast added, have the potential to make some grappa for us

Wet shoes by our Crush Pad

At the entrance of our cave, with Sparky the forklift posing

Six bins of fermenting Pinot Noir illuminated in the dark country night

We built a stone fire-pit above the Crush Pad, where we hosted a barbecue party for a few friends after a long day of winemaking

Friday, October 8, 2010

2010 Pinot Noir Harvest!

Stephen cleaning the one-ton fermenter bins, to get ready for the Pinot Noir

David and Olivia at the vintage-ready Crush Pad

Picking the Pinot Noir, early morning on the 3rd of October

The vines denuded, the picking box filled

Stephen shows a ripe little cluster, next to the veil-like bird netting

A timeless scene in the Americas: she could be among the beans and corn, a millennium ago

Our Italian tractor pulls a trailer full of loaded boxes at the end of a harvest morning

David dumps another 40 lbs. of Pinot Noir grapes into the stemmer-crusher

Stephen monitors the grapes before they drop into the stemmer

The boxes of grapes arrive at the upper level, making it easy to lift them into the stemmer-crusher
We add a little dry ice to chill the fruit, hence the white vapors. The stems are spat out of the stemmer and land in the bucket and on the ground to the left to be used as fertilizer on the vineyard

Harry adds dry ice with each pound cooling 1 degree F

Lunch was brought by John-- slabs of garlic toast, andouille sausages, Belgian beer

The lunch offerings filled the whole table (actually a slab cut from an ancient walnut tree)

David offers the crew a 1997 Pinot Noir from a jeroboam (3 liter) bottle

The second day's picking crew: 20 of us, mostly novices, got the whole job done by noon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pre-Harvest Preparation

Some of the Lees after a Cabernet racking/cleaning at Palladian Winery in St. Helena.

Pumping the wine out of the barrels for cleaning.

Clearing a fallen oak tree in the Heron Lake vineyard.

Taking an afternoon ride through the Napa hills from Heron Lake Winery, where the Olivia Brion Pinot and Chardonnay is grown, back down to Napa town.

Collecting samples of the 2009 Olivia Brion Pinot Noir for testing.

Fixing and reassembling the crusher/de-stemmer in preparation for harvest.

Sanitizing the keg with ozonated water for cleaning the oak barrels.

Cleaning the cabernet barrels at Palladian after a racking, and adding humidity to this beautiful natural cave.