2023 Vintage – Zinfandel

Sauvignon Blanc

September 10th, 2023
I had a convenient opportunity to do a side project of white wine this year. The Cal Wine Broker sent an email offering Sauvignon Blanc (a white I was interested in) on a weekend I wasn’t particularly busy on. Sign me up!

After meeting at 6:30am at a Brentwood gas station we went to Serendipity Cellars and I got to pick my own grapes almost exactly here. I picked for 1.5 hours filling some totes I brought. The clusters were really tight onto the vine and finding where to snip was difficult. Some of the clusters had vine rot which I skipped over. But all in all it looked pretty good. I didn’t really have a good sense of weight, but I left after about 1.5 hours and had 178 lbs and paid 80 cents for a total of $132. (A little less since I think he tared some of the weight away for the totes).

I took it home and through it through the crusher/destemmer. It was very easy! I made a DIY press drilling a ton of 1/8″ holes in an old bucket and using my cap puncher and my body weight to squeeze it out. I think I had to get most of it out, I was pleased with how much I extracted. I put them in buckets, but then later in carboys and it was two full carboys at the end of it. I added 50ppm SO2 immediately after the press, and pitched DYW56 ICV-D47 Dry Wine Yeast (8 g) of yeast at the 24 hour mark. The airlock went crazy for a few days! On September 18th, I added bentonite, 4tsp in 1c of hot water for each carboy. I might be too late for this as they say to do it during active fermentation as it’s really volatile. Doing it now the bentonite might just go to the bottom and be less effective, we’ll see. I should rack this to clean carboys in a week or so, then they just age.

September 24th, 2023

Ok, now for the main event. I went back to the same Lodi Zinfandel from last year. I was busy this year and didn’t have a ton of time to search around, and his price is great. I was told before the pick that the grapes might not be super ready, but I was ok with that since this was the only day my dad and brother could do it. I kinda didn’t have any other choice. I got there at 10am and he had picked 1000# already and went back out to pick 250# while we loaded. He never weighed anything, but I think it was in the ballpark. He asked for $800 which was lower than what we agreed on, so I paid him $850, he was super generous. We loaded the 3 big fermentors and ~4 smaller totes full of grapes and had plenty of bed space in Colin’s big truck. It took us 30 min to load. We went home and crushed/destemmed it all in about 40 minutes. We are really getting good at this! We were done (before cleaning) at 1pm. The cleaning was another story, I hosed everything down pretty good. But I really have to wipe all surfaces by hand. The sirup-y feel just doesn’t go away otherwise. I used my new “press” from above as a strainer and strained away 6 gal for rose, and then I have the three big fermentors full of must plus one bucket.

The brix was a little concerning. The three tubs are 22, 20 and 21. That is low! I put 50ppm SO2 on all of it. And I pitched yeast at the 24 hour mark and began to punch the cap twice a day.

I decided to add 10lbs of white sugar desolved in water split roughly equally between the 3 tubs (with the lowest, tub #2 getting a little more). Volume-wise this was about 8 cups of sugar to equal 3.33lbs which went in each tub. My math told me this would add about 1 brix to each tub. Well look at the results below. A few observations. It seems the brix went up after day 0 before adding the sugar! And my measurement four hours after the sugar was added showed the brix going down/up/down in the three tubs. Upon looking at the reading on Day 4, it seems to be in very active fermentation such that it’s very possible that I added ~1 brix of sugar and then the yeast ate 1 brix of sugar in a 5 hour period. Since the brix was meaningfully moving over time, it isn’t really possible to measure how much brix of sugar I added. I’m just going to say I added 1 to the initial average of 21. So this year’s vintage is 22 brix.
September 24: Day 0 – 22, 20, 21 (the brix for the three tubs)
September 27: Day 3 – 23, 18, 22 (taken at 4pm, right before sugar was added)
September 27: Day 3 – 21.5, 18.5, 21 (taken at 9pm, a few hours after the sugar was added to equalize)
September 28: Day 4 – 17.5, 12.5, 15.5 (right after, I added half of the yeast nutrients)
October 1: Day 7 – 0, -.5, -.5 (right after, I add the other half of the yeast nutrients)
October 2: Day 8 – -1.5, -1.5, -1.5 (right after, I added the malolactic bacteria)

October 4: Day 10 – Press day!
Ok we made it fully dry, phew! I was worried about the additional sugar. I got a press from Oak Barrel in berkeley. I had some folks over and we made quick work of pressing. Mom, Dad, Colin, Fred, Shae (and his two friends) and Brittany where there. We had minor spillage on filling the kegs, but nothing major.

The next day, I cleaned the outside of all the kegs and moved them into the garage. This task is done. I now have 5 full kegs of wine plus a carboy, one carboy of rose and 2 carboys of Sauvignon Blanc. I need to rack the gross lees in the coming days or week.

October 14: I added 50ppm to each of the 5 kegs, and 1 carboy.

March 5th, 2024: I bottled the last batch ~48 hours prior. I hosed out the inside. I retrieved the wine thief that fell in there. And I filled with 1g of boiling water for ~30 min. I was pressurized and hissed a lot once I unsealed. I then filled 4 of the kegs into the barrel. I filled it to the very top, plus one gallon carboy, plus one liter flip top, plus one glass (which I drank!). I also added 100pm SO2 which should last it a while. So I have 2.75 gal for topping. Plus I have one keg which was untouched.

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