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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.