Some people can tell it is summer by which flowers bloom, or how much daylight we get…but we can always tell it is summer the first time we open a bottle of the previous years Sauvignon Blanc. This year was no exception…yesterday we opened our 2014 Turtle Vines Sauvignon Blanc ! We think it is our best vintage yet.
Well…we have been busy here here at Turtle Vines the last few month. I will just catch you up on the highlights!
For my Birthday this last January Joanne gave me a Vinmetrics 300 so I can now do pH/TA and Sulfur tests on our wine and grapes during harvest season. We tried them out and compared them to our local lab and found it to be quite accurate and pretty easy to use, although I had to channel my high school chemistry lab (thanks Mr Fletcher).
We bottled and labelled our 2014 Merlot…sorry not for sale as we only had 4 cases, but if you are lucky enough to be in town, I’ll open up a bottle. It is the perfect pizza wine. Last week I labelled our 2013 Pinot and spun capsules on the tops. I REALLY like this wine, as does the “Prince of Pinot”, so if you want some order it fast when I release it in the next few weeks. We also bottled, labelled and capsuled our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (8 cases). This year it is much more like a traditional Sauvignon Blanc since we had more Clone 1 than last year. And I researching an easy way to make Champagne on a small scale!
Lastly, as you can see from the picture above, the vines have grown like crazy this year. Not only did Bud Break and Bloom happen 2 weeks ahead of last year, but the last 6 weeks were perfect for plant growth…warm with a few instances of rain. We have finished shoot thinning and moving wires…but we now have to shoot straighten to prevent powdery mildew, hedge the top at 6.5′ for the perfect amount of foliage, leaf and weed whack around the base. Hoping to finish these by the first week of June, and then the vineyard will be in great shape for the rest of the year.
What a year 2014 was for grapes.
– We picked 1.2 tons (75 cases worth) of Pinot Noir for our Turtle Vines label. We are keeping the Pommard and 667 Clones seperate until bottling. We may end of with 3 different kinds depending on how they age…one of each and then a blend. We will know more in July when we taste/blend and bottle.
– We sold almost 2.6 tons of Pinot Noir to Horse and Plow Winery.
– We received a case of 2013 Pinot Noir from Horse and Plow from Turtle Vines Grapes.
– We picked 9 cases worth of Sauvignon Blanc and will bottle in April.
– We picked 4 cases worth of Merlot and will bottle in July.
Lastly, I took a 6 week winemaking class from Vinquiry which will help with my winemaking in 2015.
This was a very good year for different wines at Turtle Vines. Not only are we going to have 3 different Pinot’s (see previous post), but we ended up with 21 gallons of Sauvignon Blanc and 9 gallons of Merlot. The Merlot is from rogue plants in the Pinot vineyard.
The Pinot is now put to bed in our outdoor wine room as it has finished malolactic fermentation. However, since we picked the Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot in October, and it takes 4-6 weeks to finish ML, I moved them into the house until Thanksgiving. At that time, I’ll rack, adjust the pH/TA, remove the oak from the Merlot, and sulfur them.
One last note…we tasted the Merlot and think it will turn out great…so good in fact that I may not graft them out of the Pinot vineyard, but live with the hassle while we farm.
Now onto the labeler. Again, most items in the “small winery” seem to be at least $1,000. I looked around the web and found a bottle labeler from the website www.easylabeler.com and it was only $399.
We tried it out last week while bottling our 2013 Turtle Vines Sauvignon Blanc. It took me a little while to set it up the way I wanted it, but once it was set up it worked like a champ. I think if you had a partner handing you the bottles, you could do at least 10 cases/hr.
After you fill, cork and label you need to add foil to the top of the bottle. Many folks use heat shrink plastic…not good in my taste. You can either wax them or put metal foils on top. That is the route we chose. Historically the foils were made of lead, but now they have switched to tin for obvious reasons. You would think that a foil spinner would be inexpensive, but it is over $1100. So…I borrowed one for this run and in the future will probably rent one for $50/day. Even I have a limit on spending money on wine equipment!
One last word on foils. Make sure the foil size and the bottle size match. If not, then when you “spin” them the foil will have lots of wrinkles or won’t fit on the bottle. We know from experience. Another thing…you have to purchase 1800 at a time…so make sure you carefully select you bottle size or you will be stuck with a lot of extra foils.
It is May 19th…and this is probably the busiest and most important month in the vineyard with shoot thinning, weeding, spraying, shoot positioning with c-clips just to name a few.
So why do I have a picture of wine and beer glasses? Well, it is time to bottle our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. Before you bottle, you have to make sure the wine has the right taste, and in our case we have had to add tartaric acid. For those not aware, if a wine does not have enough acid it will taste flat and to much acid and it is very tart. For our Sauvignon Blanc we have found that 7.6 g/l is just about right and for our Pinot Noir, 5.8 g/l is perfect to our tastes.
We will let the Sauvignon Blanc sit a few days and then later this week will bottle this delicious wine! Very limited quantities, so if your are in the neighborhood, ask for a taste.
PS…in case you were wondering from the picture…it takes a lot of beer to make great wine!!!
Bud break for our Sauvignon Blanc happened , March 25, 2014. It is a week ahead of last year. If you remember, due to the location of the very small Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, it does not get as much sun as the Pinot Noir. Consequently we harvested these grapes 6 weeks after the Pinot Noir, at the end of October. This year I will try and alter the vines so that we will pick in mid-September. How you ask? Normally each shoot will produce 2 grape bunches. For the 29 vines near the house I will take off one of the bunches so the shoot will put all its energy into one bunch. By the way, some vineyards in Napa do this to their Cabnernet to enhance flavor. For the 5 new vines at the entrance of the Pinot vineyard, those get plenty of sun and I’ll leave 2 bunches. I’m hoping this will both hasten ripening and also produce better wine. I’m guessing we will get about 7 cases for 2014. Follow along…and check back in September to see if this experiment works!
Our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are enjoying the cold temperatures here at Turtle Vines. Not like the rest of the country, but cold enough for wine!
A lot of people ask…”What do you do in the winter?” Well, you need to rack off the dead yeast (lees), check pH and acidity, determine if secondary fermentation is complete, sulfur the wine so it does not go bad…and of course taste the wine and make sure something “funky” is not going on while you weren’t watching. Right now we don’t have all the equipment for testing, so we are sending it to a lab…here are the results and the actions we took.
By the way, did a blind tasting of our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc vs 2011 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc and even as ours is only 3 months old 3 of 4 people preferred it!
Alcohol – 12.7%
TA – .375 … sulfured to 0.6 g/100ml
pH – 4.1 … will come down to around 3.9 after acid addition
Sulfured to 60ppm
Alcohol – 13.9%
TA – 0.465 … adjusted to 0.55 g/100ml
pH – 3.95 … will come down to around 3.85 after acid addition
Sulfured to 75ppm
All of our 2013 wine is now set for the winter. The Pinot Noir is undergoing malolactic fermentation and probably won’t finish for at least a month or longer depending on the temperature of the garage. The Sauvignon Blanc is finishing primary fermentation and we will introduce malolactic bacteria in a few weeks when we rack a third time.
So…31 cases of Pinot Noir (we sold 2.1 tons of grapes) and 4.7 cases of Sauvignon Blanc!
We waited for Joey’s friend Jeanette to arrive from Texas and then picked, destemmed and pressed our Sauvignon Blanc.
We ended up with 200 pounds (enough for 4 1/2 cases). Brix 21.5, pH 3.6 and TA 3.9. Just about perfect…with very nice flavor and brown seeds. Last year we picked at the same time as the Pinot, but this year I put a little to much fruit on the vines so it had to ripen for an extra 6 weeks.
Joey with her harvest
We pulled out all the same equipment as with the Pinot. The real exception with white vs red is you ferment the red on its skins and with the white you press it right away. The press held the 200 pounds easily, in fact I think we could have had 600 pounds in the 170L press.
Here is the wine after we racked the gross lees. You can see that the fermentation has started after we added yeast on 10/21. It should take around 8 days and then we will rack off the lees and add malolactic bacteria and let it ferment again for a few months.