Winemaking activity at Heartfelt Wines in 2010.

Filling the Barrels

posted Dec 22, 2010, 7:06 PM by Dan Morgan

Its been several weeks since the last blog post but we’ve made a lot of progress on our 2010 vintages as the year comes to a close. In the previous blog post we had just started the fermentation process on the Cabernet and Syrah grapes from Caldwell Vineyards in Napa. The Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from J Rickards Vineyard in Sonoma had been pressed earlier and were undergoing Malolactic (ML) fermentation to soften and stabilize the wine.

Since the last blog, the Cabernet and Syrah finished primary fermentation. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving we pressed the 3½ tons of Cabernet and Syrah grapes during an all day (13 hour) “pressing extravaganza” which yielded approximately 200 gallons of Cabernet and 300 gallons of Syrah. The photo gallery Filling the Barrels shows the barrels lined up and being filled with freshly pressed Cabernet and Syrah. After the press, I could see (and taste) that the Cabernet in particular is off to a great start with the deep color and rich flavors I’ve come to expect from the Caldwell grapes

After the press, the juice then went into our Treasure Island “Hot Room” where we maintain a constant 70 degrees which is the optimum temperature for malolactic fermentation. Both are near completion of ML and once completed we will rack the juice off the “gross lees” (i.e., the sediment that has settled to the bottom of the barrels), top off the barrels and then I get to rest.

Finally, the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from J Rickards also completed their ML fermentation process. The Petite Sirah finished several weeks ago and the Zinfandel just finished this past week. They have both been racked and topped off and are now ready to mature into Heartfelt Wines in 2011.

Busy Week

posted Nov 15, 2010, 12:48 PM by Dan Morgan

After a typically long growing season, which allowed for extra time on the vine, the Cabernet and Syrah grapes from Caldwell Vineyard in Napa were picked during the first week of November. My Cabernet was picked on Friday 11/5 and destemmed the following morning at dawn. I got up to the vineyard at 6:15am on Saturday as my fruit hit the crush pad and then got to see a beautiful early morning view of the Napa Valley as clouds started to roll in for a storm that was due the next day.

After loading my mighty trailer with 1.5 tons of Cabernet, I delivered the first batch to Treasure Island and returned to Napa later that day for 2 tons of Syrah. It was a long but fruitful day (no pun intended) and that was just the beginning of a very long weekend. After testing the brix (sugar content), TA (total acid), and PH readings we put the fruit on the chiller at 50 degrees for the standard cold soak. The photo gallery Picking Up the Cabernet shows a little of what happened on a busy Saturday.

On Sunday we pressed the Petite Sirah (which had been previously picked in Sonoma). We started at 7am with all the cleaning and prep work and were able to start pressing around 9am and finished up at 3pm. Both the Zinfandel (pressed the week before) and Petite Sirah are now resting comfortably in our “Hot Room” were we maintain a temperature of 70 degrees to aid the secondary fermentation that is in progress. The Zinfandel and Petite Sirah were inoculated with a Malolactic (ML) culture which converts Malic to Lactic acid to soften and stabilize the wine. This step is done after the primary fermentation and pressing steps.

Finally, on Wednesday, we took the Cabernet and Syrah from Caldwell off the chiller after a 4 day cold soak. With the brix on the Syrah having adjusted from 28.5 down to 26, we inoculated with yeast to start the primary fermentation process. The Cabernet is also fermenting but will use the natural yeast that comes from the vineyard. The natural yeast gives me a long slow fermentation usually finishing in about 14 to 16 days.

Pressing the Zinfandel

posted Nov 5, 2010, 9:48 AM by Dan Morgan

On Sunday October 31st (Halloween) after a cold soak lasting 4 days and primary fermentation of 22 days we pressed 2 tons of gorgeous Zinfandel. Beside myself the “press gang” included Danny (my assistant winemaker) and Tom (our webmaster). What seemed to be a simple task, took hours of preparation and clean-up. Sterilization is key to wine making, and to make sure that pumps, hoses and the press are clean is no simple task. The actual pressing took about 4 hours but the prep and clean up took an additional 5 hours. Fortunately I made it home 15 minutes before game 4 of the World Series.

In the associated photo gallery Pressing the Zinfandel, you can see pictures of the press process including the beautiful NIKO VP8e bladder press (from Slovenia). There are also some pictures showing the fun I had with a forklift.

Next up, the call has come in from Caldwell Vineyard in Napa. They will be picking grapes for me on Friday. So with trailer in tow, I will be heading to Napa on Friday afternoon to get the most amazing Cabernet and Syrah fruit which I will use in my flagship "Inspiration Red".

We've Got a Logo

posted Oct 28, 2010, 10:09 AM by Tom Morgan

This is not strictly part of the wine making process but we are happy to announce that we've got a new logo and color scheme.  The new look was developed by our Artistic Director Karen from KMP Design http://www.kmpdesign.com.

Petite Sirah Arrives

posted Oct 26, 2010, 11:36 AM by Dan Morgan

Greetings from Treasure Island, the Zinfandel is at 1 brix and nearing dryness.  It should be complete in a few days. The fermentation is going slow and steady, and will give me the long skin contact I strive for, we should be pressing the Zinfandel on Saturday.

The Petite Sirah (also from the J Rickard's Vineyard) was picked and crushed last Thursday. As with the Zinfandel, I’m doing a cold soak for a few days and inoculated the must with yeast on Sunday. The must sugar level (remember that the “must” is the freshly crushed mass of grapes) was adjusted from 27 brix to 26, and the acid was also adjusted.

Pictured to the right is Danny Sullivan doing TA (total acid) and PH testing at the Treasure Island Winery lab. Danny is my Assistant Winemaker and Cellar Rat extraordinaire, he’s been assisting all the winemakers at the TI facility where I’m working.

Next up are the Cabernet and Syrah, from Caldwell Vineyards in Napa. The fruit typically comes in during the last week of October so I’m expecting the call any time now. It just rained in Napa and more rain is forecast for the end of the week so its crunch time for all the grape pickers!

The Crush is On!

posted Oct 14, 2010, 9:45 AM by Dan Morgan

Old vine Zinfandel from the J Rickards Vineyard in Cloverdale (in northern Sonoma) was picked and crushed on Tuesday October 5th. The grapes from this vineyard (originally planted in 1908) were picked a couple of weeks later than usual due to the cooler than normal summer. As a result, the longer hang-time has allowed a greater fruit maturity giving winemakers optimum conditions for big, big flavors. Current tasting notes include raspberry, cherry and boysenberry with hints of pepper. Color is a deep purple and tannins are mild.

When I got the grapes back to the winery on Treasure Island they went into a three day cold soak in which the temperature was lowered to help stabilize the color and aromatic intensity.

The acid and sugar levels were adjusted on Friday.  When the “must” (i.e, the freshly crushed/destemmed grapes) reached a temperature of 65 degrees on Sunday we inoculated with a vigorous yeast strain to start the fermentation process.

Over the next 7 - 10 days we will “punch down the cap” (i.e. push down the skins and solids that float to the top of the tub during fermentation)  2 - 3 times/day and monitor temperature and sugar depletion.

As of Wednesday the 13th the “brix” (i.e. sugar content) has dropped to 18 from the original brix of 26. The fermentation is moving swiftly and should be complete within a week.

Take a look in the photo gallery The Crush Is On and you will see a few pictures of the crush and normal sights from Treasure Island including a great view of San Francisco and the Blue Angels flying overhead!

Introducing the Winemaker's Blog

posted Oct 6, 2010, 10:28 AM by Tom Morgan

In October, winemaker Dan Morgan will begin posting to the Winemaker's Blog. This blog will cover various aspects of the winemaking process as Dan takes grapes from the vineyard to wine in the tasting room.

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