Monthly Archives: September 2012


P1110792Why is this important? Most vineyards show potassium deficiency, however young vines in many cases produce berries high in potassium like our did, >2,000 ppm. An easy explanation….watering techniques. Early in the season, wen the growth rate is high, much of the potassium accumulates in the leaves. Then the potassium ions are moved from the leaves into the berries later in the season when the fruit starts to ripen. How is this controlled? Try not to water from the time the berries “set” on the vines to verasion (when they turn purple). This will limit the amount of potassium into the leaves that will be transferred to the berries. Due to the smallness of our vines and the shallow roots, I had to water them so they would be healthy. This, I think, shot up the potassium which in turn increased our pH of the berries later in the season. So, next year I will try and not water until verasion.

High pH/High Titratable Acid?

P1110826I learned so much this year in farming…but not as much in all the items I had to monitor prior to harvesting and in making good wine. I was looking at sugar content (around 23.5 to make 13.5% alcohol wine), seed color as the browner will tell me that the phenolics (ripeness) are ready but I didn’t monitor the pH. Why is that important? In a finished wine you want around 3.6 pH so that it will taste smooth but also age. The higher the pH the harder it is to age and the more sulfur you have to add when the wine is aging and in the bottle so it does not spoil. Therefore, you want your grapes at harvest to be around 3.4 because during fermentation, pressing and malolactic fermentation it will rise 0.2-0.3 units. When we picked the pH was 3.9 so I added tartaric acid to bring the pH closer to 3.7 before fermentation. Hopefully that is low enough.

Oh, almost forgot…the higher the pH the lighter the color. So, I added pectic enzymes to the must during cold soak to enhance the color. The top picture is with and without enzymes. Pretty impressive so far, will have to see how it turns out in the finished product.


sb clusterThis will detail the fermentation of our first harvest of Pinot noir and Sauvignon blanc

Harvest – 9/23/12
Amount – ~20 lbs
Brix – 22.6
Yeast – VL1 (a Viogner type)
Manually crushed and de-stemmed into a small press. Press resulted in about 2 gallons of liquid. 10g of VL1 yeast was added to a 5 gallon carboy with a plastic cup on top at 1pm. 5ml of a 10% potassium meta-bisulfite solution was added as a preservative, approximately 35ppm.

9/24 – Lovely smell
10/4 – added mlf
Harvest – 9/23/12
Amount – 34 picking tubs with ~35 lbs in each, or 1190 lbs, Brix – ~23.2 Crushed and de-stemmed at EMTU vineyards into a 1/2 ton bin. 32g of meta-bi-sulfite added as a preservative. Also added 40 lbs of dry ice. Temperature of must solution reduced from 62 F to 40 F.
9/24 – 48 F at noon
9/25 62 F at 9:30am Brix = 22.8 or 23.0 , Added 10 g Lallzyme Enzyme, 30# dry ice
9/27 55 F, added 40# dry ice, liquid very viscous due to enzymes
9/29 58 F, Added 1.5 g/l of tartaric acid and 0g assmanshausen yeast
9/30 62 F, brix 22, punch down
10/1 82 F, brix 19.8, punch down
10/2 88 F, brix 12.7 and 9.8, pH 3.84, punch down and added 0.5 g/l tartaric acid
10/3 90 F, brix 4.5, pH 3.82, great color much less viscous
10/4 81 F, brix -1.4
10/8 pH 3.76, very dark purple and cap has fallen….ready for pressing this morning.


harvest crewHarvest Happens at Turtle Vines….after only 4 short years of planning! We started on 9/23 at 8 am with nine friends and ended up picking 20 lbs of Sauvignon blanc (Brix 22.4) and around 1190 lbs of Pinot noir (Brix ~23). We finished picking at 11:00 and then went to EMTU Vineyards for crushing/destemming (another 1.5 hours) and adding sulfur/dry ice for a cold soak on the Pinot noir and sulfur/yeast for the Sauvignon blanc. I’ve added lots of pictures below….
Harvest toast sb press sb cluster dry ice finishedpicking

Another reason to hate raccoons, but they have good taste!

P1110671As many of you know I have been waging a small battle with the raccoons due to the fact that they have been messing up my weed cloth/mulch so they can find food. However, now they have gone to far. They are now eating my almost ripe grapes! I can understand since they taste so good, but it will certainly cut down on the bottles of wine this year since we don’t have a lot to start with. How do they do it you ask….they push the nets against the clusters and then eat them.

Well, this weekend I relocated two more raccoons. One little one and one full sized. They are now going 11 miles away in hopes they don’t return.


Labels and Taste of Sonoma

WCWAnother rough weekend here in Sebastopol. Since my little babies are getting ready to be harvested in 3 weeks and this time of year there is a lot of praying to the weather gods but not a lot of work to be done…it was time to celebrate at the 33rd “Taste of Sonoma”. 207 wineries and 75 food pairing under 4 large tents….all for Charity. Joanne and I, my brother Don and his wife Patti from Connecticut, my nephew Cody and his fiance’ Andrea from San Francisco all set out Saturday to eat, drink and look for good labels for our bottles. Below are a few we liked and will put on our dream board to come up with our Turtle Vines 2012 Pinot noir label.Label