The last couple of days have been cool and FOGGY!!! I almost feel as though we are not in the Napa Valley. This seems more like what I would imagine Piemonte to be like. The word for their most famous grape, Nebbiolo, comes from the Italian word for fog: Nebbia. What this means for us is that we wait. We wait until the sugars are high, the pH drops a bit and the phenolics “get there.”
Yesterday I washed a bunch of the big picking bins. It was so cool in the morning when I was power washing them with hot water that I created my own fog! It actually got hard to see and very damp where I was washing. After a bit I was told that I was, of course, welcome to use the wet weather gear. Of course. I put it on when I was already good and damp and my red shoes had already stained both my socks and toes red. The gear is a men’s size large jacket and a men’s size EXTRA large over-all. Luckily I have found some rubber boots that fit pretty well, though. I just suited up and tucked those XLs into my boots and off I went for round two.
After lunch I was waiting for the guy who moves them and got started on another project of – you guessed it – scrubbing and sanitizing. I have done so much detail work on gaskets and attachments and caps etc, that the wine maker told me I am an angel of sanitation. I replied, “the sanit-angel?” This has stuck at least for now – you may refer to me as the “Sanit-angel.”
Today I got to do more sampling of vineyards and more stenciling. We went to our pinot blocks on Westside Rd. near Healdsburg and it was foggy until at least 10 am. This is not really great right now. In the vineyard last week we were seeing lots and lots of greenish grapes. Today, far fewer. Because we had been last week, my boss asked the vineyard owner to drop the unneeded/extra bunches. If a vine is giving its energy to fewer bunches, it has more energy to give to each individual bunch. This made a huge difference both in brix and phenolics. Each of the four blocks definitely ripened visually, flavor wise, and in most cases, by at least two brix. Still, we will be going block by block, with probably at least a week between each block.
This is kind of what doing brix testing looks like. Right now we have a “mobile lab” (really a cart that I put all of our testing equipment on) while we are waiting for our real lab to get built. We are having a great lab built from scratch, but for now we have a cart.
It is “my” lab. I was just recently told that my job once we get juice will be to test it every morning. I am not being sarcastic at all when I say that I am super excited that this is my job! For now, and I think in the future as well, we are sending out the juice for testing as far as TA and pH goes. Also part of my job is to get it to the real lab for testing. I do get to do the sugar testing, though. Apparently, last time I filled out these labels I circled pH and VA. This is wrong!!! Volatile acidity is tested in WINE not JUICE!!! I should have circled TA which is tartriteable acidity (I think – but I will check to make sure what it really is). The lab ended up calling and asking if we were sure we wanted to know what the VA was in our juice, like we were dumb or something. “WE” weren’t dumb, we just had an intern who didn’t look carefully when circling!
Anyway, no harm done! Fun two days – – and a picture of the barrels that I stenciled. Can you see the stencils?