Once an addict…..

Jose Padron

Mission San Gabriel grounds keeper Jose Padron. Sharing some of the wine he’s made from the vines at the mission while sitting with me under the Mother Vine. Photo:Walt Fogler-Mancini, Pasadena Star-News.

Somethings you cannot escape. Whether it’s a matter of inherent tendencies and proclivities, or “catching the bug”, very seldom is one able to completely and permanently forswear a passion.

So is the case with me and wine and wine making.

For the past few years, I’ve been propagating some cuttings from the Mother Vine at the Mission San Gabriel. I became involved in the effort after visiting the mission in December of 2011.

The plan was to install a historically accurate demonstration vineyard.

We consulted several sources and Mitchell Hearns-Bishop of the L.A. County Arboretum was a great help.

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To the despair of my parents, I am not religious – in any sense of the word. Nevertheless, I do recognize the symbolism of religious ceremonies, observances, rituals and calendars. Take, for instance, Easter.

After the vermin endemic to suburban Los Angeles and beloved by the deluded hug-a-pest-but-grow-a-garden-instead-of-a-lawn hippies, destroyed 70% of my crop last year, I was ready to give up. Then, we had two deaths in the family (more or less expected, but still difficult to get through). So, I’d not been to the vineyard since I pulled the netting. Continue reading

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Broke down and did it

5 cubic foot chest freezer.

5 cubic foot chest freezer.

My kids, when they want something, are very clever in presenting selling points that are likely to appeal to me: “A new computer will help me do better in school.” Or: “Playing football will help me lose weight“.

It’s important to keep learning, so I learned form them: “Honey, if we get a chest freezer – Home Depot has a good deal on one right now – we can use it to store all the stuff that doesn’t fit in the fridge.” And: “We’ll be able to save by buying bulk items and keep them in the chest freezer.” I was careful to add: “Except for a few weeks a year when I need to drop acids in a wine“.

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So… you want to plant a home vineyard…

What's in your vineyard supply bin?

What’s in your vineyard supply bin?

I’ve made some recommendations in the past about making the most out of a tight space when one wants to put in a home vineyard.

But, if the reader is lucky enough to own some land and has a hankering for the vigneron lifestyle, a producing vineyard is just three years away. Continue reading

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“Proof-Of-Concept” sparkler

"Proof-of-Concept" base wine.

“Proof-of-Concept” base wine.

I want to make sparklers with the traditional champagne method, but without the additional cost of champagne bottles, crown caps, baskets, etc.  Making sparkling wines is not that difficult, and I think I can do it with with 750 ml flip-top bottles.

And that is the concept: A complete Champenoise process can be done successfully with a carboy and flip-top bottles.

The goal is to create sediment-free, tasty wine with carbonation. The challenge is doing it in one bottle and without the above-mentioned additional supplies. Continue reading

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Smells like a miracle (or something….)

The miracle of "native" fermentation.

The miracle of “native” fermentation.

In order to feed my wine making addiction (after the #%@*!ing raccoons destroyed 70% of my crop), I brought in some fruit from Santa Clara Valley this past weekend. In addition to my new love, Fiano, I bought 100 lbs of Sangiovese.

I have some grafts in my vine nursery awaiting planting, but I wanted to experiment with the variety. The fruit I bought is a small-berried “piccolo” clone. While the “grosso” and “piccolo” classification is not exactly accepted nomenclature, the small berry variant tends to be preferred, by virtue of the pulp-to-skin ratio notion. Continue reading

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Some online cellar tools

Found this on winebusiness.com today:

Winemaking Calculators (from vinoenology.com):

These are handy calculators to keep around for large and small productions.

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A slow goodbye

I’ve put a lot of energy into my vineyard. I’m not even mentioning the money.

The vineyard has kept me sane. It has been my escape, my solice. Going up that hill and getting dirty and sweaty has helped me keep a mental distance from all sorts of negative things. Continue reading

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D’oh! Lysozyme…

So, my 2011 Suisun Valley Montepulciano has not gone through malolactic fermentation despite two separate inoculations and the addition of Leukofood.

The cellar temperature has been above 70°F for some time and the pH is 3.4 (and change), so temperature and pH are not the reasons why the wine did not go through MLF. Continue reading

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Vine clinic: Pierce’s Disease.

Cluster shrivel.

Cluster shrivel.

Presenting Symptoms:

This past Monday, while prepping the Aglianico block for netting, I noted an Aglianico vine in the first row with a shriveled cluster. This vine has no other signs of Pierce’s disease: it is no less vigorous than others in the block, it has no irregular cane lignification and no leaf scorch.

Last week, I noted another Aglianico vine (#5 in the same row) with scorched leaves. Yesterday, I found this vine to have irregular lignification as well as possible early shrivel of a cluster. Continue reading

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