Monthly Archives: October 2009

Pressing Grapes – Almost 7 Gallons of Pinot Noir

IMG_5441The grapes fermented for a week and on Saturday Oct 17th the hydrometer reading got to zero! We were ready to press and put the “wine” into a large 7 gallon carboy. Joey, Cody and I spent about 3 hours pressing, filtering, cleaning to get our first vintage ready. It will now sit in the carboy for about a month until it goes still, or stops the last bit of fermentation. During this period of time the sediment (lees) will fall to the bottom. We will then transfer this to a smaller containers 3 more times and take out the sediment so that we have clear wine. Of course, we will have to taste it to make sure it is OK and make sure it is good to bottle in about 6 months. In the next post I will detail the readings we took in case anyone is interested.

Below are some pictures we took along the way.IMG_5460 IMG_5441

Erosion Control

IMG_5427Well, the rain gods were testing us at Turtle Vines last week. We spread 75 pounds of Crimson Clover all over the vineyard in anticipation of the upcoming rain. They said it would rain hard but we were not totally prepared for 4+ inches this early in the season. I didn’t notice it last year, but all the rain from the driveway and the house and barn gutters ends up behind the barn. With all this water it runs down the field near the neighbors fence and out the back of the field. It must do this every year as the folks behind us have a large culvert to catch the rain. Only issue this year is that we got a little erosion in the field.

So, I ordered 30 bales of hay and 8 wattles and hired a guy from Graton to help me put it on the field and repair the dirt. Took a day and a half but I think we are now set for the rains. Looks like an El Nino year as it rained again on 10/19 another inch. We really need it here as they keep telling me we are in a drought. Coming from San Jose where it only rains 12 inches a year, getting 25 inches last year did not feel like a drought. However, as I’m learning in my Viticulture classes, this is the rain that will help the little plants next spring when we plant.

Cover Crops

mini gradingIn order to get my Crimson Clover in before the rains come…..I made a little ground smoother with some fence posts and fence wire and dragged it around the vineyard for several hours. It worked pretty well, although not as well as a tractor. Then I spread about 75 pounds of crimson clover by hand going up every other row with a seed spreader. The tough part was pushing a grass roller up and down each row twice (about 4 miles) in 1 1/2 hours. What a work out….6 miles of walking in an afternoon, but at least the grass is in!!!

De-stemming grapes for our own wine – Generously donated grapes

IMG_5373We are going to try and make our own wine this year. We went today to EMTU to pick about 70 pounds of grapes and use the kit that our nephew gave us to make 6 gallons of wine (30 bottles). We hope we will have some wine to drink in about a year. This will be the first of 3 practice batches before we have our own grapes.

Chris took this picture of all of use doing it the old fashioned way, taking the grapes off the rachis (stems) by hand. We then put them in the white food grade 20 gallon pail….tested for and adjusted the acid. We started at 0.65 and we wanted 0.75. We also added about 30 ppm of sulfur. We will let it sit for 2 days and then add yeast for it to ferment. Should take about a week and then we crush.

Finishing the Highway Stakes


Since we put the vineyard at an angle to best ripen the grapes on both sides (see earlier post) the machine that could push in the stakes can’t get to the edges of the field. So, I’m left with putting them in by hand. This seems easy at first, but after a while it is difficult, especially where the land was not tilled very well along the neighbors fence.

So here is the routine. First you carry the stakes to the location on the field where you need them, 150 of them over 1.3 acres. They each only weigh 10 pounds. Next you take the 35 pound “hammer” and slide it over the 8 foot stake and lift it into position and pound until it is in the ground 2 feet. Where the ground is soft……not to bad. Where it is hard…..very tiring for just one of them.

I can do about 1.5 to 2 hours per day and then I have to say “enough”.

I have about 50 to go on the tough ground…..should finish in 3 more days…….next up is the irrigation.

PS Just figured out how much steel is in the ground. 4.5 Tons of endposts (166 @ 55 pounds) and 3.2 tons of stakes (660 @ 10 pounds). I probably carried around 1/2 from the pile near the barn to the spots in the field. No need to go to the gym!