Monthly Archives: September 2014

2014 Winemaking – What are we doing different?

2014 winemaking

Every year we look at what we did the previous year, if it worked, and what to do differently.

We are very happy with the how the 2013 Pinot turned out based on the sampling we did at bottling.  I’m hoping it progresses to a wonderfully complex wine in the next 9-12 months.

That said, here is what we did last year and changes this year.

Vineyard – Pick when flavors are optimal, usually around 23.5-24 brix.  Mix of Pommard and 667.  2014 – Will ferment/pick Pommard and 667 separately.  Depending of flavors we will bottle 1 to 3 wines.

Fermentation – Inoculate with Assmanhausen yeast after 5 day cold soak.  2014 – 7-10 day cold soak and then allow fermentation to begin for 1-2 days before inoculation to allow complexity from wild yeast.

Oak – 1 Xoaker per gallon of wine.  2014 – 1.33 Xoakers per gallon of wine to add slightly more oak flavor.




Kelvedon (winner of Taste of Tasmania) vs Turtle Vines



When we were in Australia last year, we attending the Taste of Tasmania.  It was a fantastic festival where we got to taste Wines from Tasmania with 40,000 of our newest friends.

Last week we had guests over and decided to see if anyone could tell the difference between the winner of the festival, Kelvedon, and Turtle Vines Pinot.  Interestingly enough, they both had the same flavor profile and only 2 of the 5 people correctly named the wines.

The morale of the story is…we are on the right track with wonderful tasting wine!

One last note of interest.  Almost all of the Australia wines had screw tops and many were made with Flextank technology.




Don’t press wine with a white shirt!

Dirty shirt after press


Sometimes you can plan when to press and pick…sometimes it plans for you.  Last week we had a hot spell and the Pinot for Turtle Vines had to be harvested.  This week I thought I had another day of fermenting the Pommard clone…but when I checked at noon on the 9/17…it was ready!  So…I really should have changed my white hemp shirt…but we just started pulling out and cleaning the pressing equipment.   Three hours later we had 96 gallons of pressed juice.  On 9/18 I inoculated with malolactic and will rack on 9/19 and add Xoakers (oak balls).  The 667 clone will get pressed on 9/19.  I think that will go to plan as the temperature had cooled off.

Rain now?

Rain on press

It rained today, September 18th here in Sebastopol.  Not a surprise in most parts of the country, but here it is big news during harvest as the moisture can ruin your crop.  We picked our Pinot last Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday so that is safe.  Our Sauvignon Blanc is still hanging for another month or so…so I blew them off and sprayed them today.

On Sunday we will pick the seconds from the Pinot and some rogue Merlot to either make a Rose or a low alcohol field blend.  Will have to see how it tastes.

As to the picture…we have the press on the left, 1100 pounds of fermenting Pinot in the middle (clone 667), and 95 gallons of pressed Pinot (clone Pommard) on the right.  I’m really looking forward to how the Pinot’s turn out this year as I let them naturally ferment before inoculating with yeast.  Should add complexity.

California Wine Month, or hug your local winemaker!

Ca wine month


California Wine Month in September celebrates one of our signature agricultural products and all that vintners and growers bring to the economy, culture and lifestyle of the Golden State.

Whether you are drinking Russian River Valley Pinot, Napa Cab or White Zinfandel, chances are they were grown and made in California.  So…find what you like and think of us here in California fondly!  Better yet, contact me for some Turtle Vines Pinot Noir.

2014 Harvest at Turtle Vines

2014 crew

September 2nd, 2014 was the start of our harvest activity.  Friends of ours came over and picked 1300 pounds of Pommard (Pinot Noir clone).  The next day, with the help of Bernadino, he and I picked 1100 pounds of 667 (another Pinot Noir clone).  Then on September 4th, Rob’s crew came in and picked the rest of the Pinot Noir that was sold to Horse and Plow, 5100 pounds.   Since my truck and Bill’s trailer only hold 2 tons, I had to make two trips to the winery.

So for those following the last few years…we planted 3130 vines in 2010 and had our first harvest in 2012 of 1400 pounds.  2013 was 5200 pounds and this year was 7500 pounds.  Next year we should be close to a fully mature vineyard and will get close to 10,000 pounds.

By the way…a few months ago I predicted 7780 pounds.  Pretty close when you add in the 100 pounds I will pick for Rose this week and the 200 pounds I dropped due to mildew damage.

First load 2014 second load 2014