Posts Tagged ‘grapes’

Bottling – a love hate relationship.

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Like most winemakers I have a love hate relationship to bottling. I love getting the wine in bottle, because it means my job is mostly complete, and there is a real since of accomplishment that the end of the yearly cycle of the task is ending. I also hate it because so many variables are at work and so much can go wrong. A friend of mine called it “your last chance to mess up the wine”, though he used a much cruder verb than mess up.
In some cases though the wine keeps getting better as you take it further along in the process. A good example this year is the Sauvignon Blanc which has been difficult since the fermenter. At every stage it has given me fits, and it has been a real chore getting it to taste delicious. Finally this morning tasting it at the bottling line, I could say to myself in all honesty, “This is a nice wine. It’s more similar to a French or New Zealand SB than a California, but it’s good.” That was both a pleasure and a relief.
I particularly like that we’re bottling a dessert wine this year. I only get to make one of these every few years, and it’s exciting to do stuff out of the routine. We used Viognier as the grape this year and I believe that with a little bottle age it’s going to be super. It’s pretty nice right now, which bodes well.
Mostly this time of year we bottle the fresh whites and the rose, but we’re also bottling our 2008 Syrahs tomorrow. This is a four or five months earlier than usual. The wines were so tasty in barrel that I felt like it was time to pull the trigger. These ’08 Syrahs are ridiculously concentrated from a flavor perspective, and inky dark. The only problem with them is that we have so little of them.

Posted via email from Tolosa Winery

The Final Days of Harvest

Friday, October 17th, 2008

This is the final week of harvest. Tomorrow, Saturday the 18th, will be our last day of picking. We'll be bringing in Syrah from Salaal Vineyard. The last few days we've been the beneficiaries of some perfect Indian Summer weather. Clear skies, mid day highs in the high eighties and low nineties, and cool fogless nights. It was just that final kick of warmth that the late varietals needed. Yesterday was particularly fun. We picked Grenache to make both a Blanc de Grenache and Rose, as well as a tiny bit of Syrah to add a bit of color and complexity to the Rose. These wines like all white wines are made in the press and the pressing of red grapes into white and rose wine is a particularly "hands on" activity. It is also exceptionally beautiful to  watch the light ruby colored juice falling out of the press lit by the bright autumnal sunlight. Altogether a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
All in all it has been a successful harvest. Most of the Chardonnay is now finished fermenting or close and it looks like a fine vintage for this signature varietal of the Edna Valley. Pinot Noir, our most important wine also looks quite good. The very best fermenters are being drained now and the last will go to barrel over the next few days. It is a medium bodied vintage for Pinot. The structure of these wines is old fashioned – traditional in a good way. They are balanced, aromatic and slightly lower in alcohol than average. 

Thanks for reading the harvest updates,please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments!

-Larry Brooks, Winemaker

Harvest Update Sept. 24th

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

We have taken in all of blocks 569 and 590 in the last few days – they make up 60% of our No Oak and some of the Estate Chardonnay. Sugars and acid balance are perfect for Chardonnay this year from what we have picked; We are not having to do any juice adjustments which is great. We brought in block 513 which is another Pinot Noir D667 block on the airport ranch.
It’s a funny year, normally skyrocketing sugars force picking, but this year it’s crashing acids that are the concern.
Another interesting aspect of this year’s Pinot is that the color is very very slow to come out. We are doing longer cold soaks and longer total maceration to get color. The balance of the Pinot on Edna Ranch east will come in later this week or early next and the balance of the Dijon clone Chardonnay should also be in by the end of next week. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for the late varietals such as Syrah to ripen. We have about three more weeks of good strong sunlight still available so I think that most everything will ripen.
-Larry Brooks, Winemaker

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

There is a widely held, but largely false perception that our food and by extension our wine is somehow tainted with pesticides and is bad for you. The popularity of organic and biodynamic designations are one of the byproducts of this ignorance of the true purity of what we eat and drink. California where we grow our grapes has the most stringent pesticide control regulations in the world. They were designed to protect the consumer from contamination and they are successful. If they are followed the chance of pesticide residue is zero. It’s hard to get any better than zero residue. If you don’t follow them you are going to jail so I don’t know anyone who doesn’t follow them. You have to be a certified applicator to even purchase the materials. It is all very tightly regulated. Over and above that the average wine grower is incredibly paranoid about anything have a flavor or fermentation effect on the wine so they are even more demanding than the already strict regulations concerning residues. Over and above this we follow an internally generated set of guidelines developed locally to grow our wine grapes sustainably. The soil and water are to us more precious than gold as they are what produce our wines. We do our utmost to preserve them. We also spend our working lives in and around the vineyards and value our personal health as much as everyone else does so we do our very best not to contaminate our immediate environment.

Here’s something to think about. The average vineyard has far fewer pesticides applied to  it than the average suburban lawn that your kids play on, and the wine you drink is far purer than the water that comes out of your tap or the bottled spring water you are drinking.
-Larry Brooks, Winemaker

Resetting the Vineyard’s Clock

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Harvest is now long complete.  The vines are spent and their soils nearly drained of useable moisture. First a freeze or two, leaves begin to fall and the vines start their decent into dormancy. It is winter now in the vineyard where frosts, strong winds, heavy rain and even an occasional snow fall have little, if any, effect on the sleeping vines.

Winter is a time of renewal, recharging and resetting the vineyard’s clock for another growing season.

Rainfall is welcome, anticipated and necessary for a successful vintage.  Around this area some 17 inches of soil moisture is needed to mature a crop.  Though much of this could be supplied by an irrigation system, a natural, rain filled soil profile is always the preference.  It cleanses the soil of accumulated salts and wastes no energy.  Though our recent rain storms may have seemed so heavy and continuous, there is little concern as a dormant vine can withstand a completely saturated soil for as long as 6 weeks without consequence while our cover crops of grass and clover minimize erosion.

Winter is also a time for pruning.  Pruning each individual vine to a proper number of fruiting buds is a long practiced skill.  During the past growing season each vine may have produced some 450 buds capable of producing clusters for the next vintage.  To simply allow all of them to grow this summer is not a sustainable practice.  Depending on the site, variety, and health of the vines we will likely remove all but 30 buds.  This work begins each year in January and must be completed by the middle of March before the first signs of spring.

Maybe this is a perfect time of year for you to join us as we renew, recharge and reset our own clocks here in the vineyard.
-Jim Efird, Partner & Vineyard Manager