How many pounds?

We’re getting closer to the crush now (2-4 weeks away), and I’m working on the winery every chance I get. Here are some updates…please call or email me if you have some time to help or answers to any of the questions/problems below:

  • We ordered 1500 lbs of grapes. I’m thinking this is way to much. Read this: Also, I don’t really have a way to transport more than 1000 lbs (not enough containers). I may just make an executive decision and cut our grape order to 1000 or 1200 lbs.
  • I’m having a hard time keeping the winery under 85 degrees when it’s so hot outside. I really need to install some insulation.
  • I bought a truck. It’s a diesel 1993 GMC Sierra 3500. It’s a monster. It has a gem top, and I’m going to need some help taking that off before we go get the grapes.
  • I’ve been trying to work out the logistics of the whole process. Certain parts are starting to come together…but I’ve never done wine on this scale and so I’m pretty confused and a bit frightened at this point, actually. I’ll write up another post later and try to map out the whole process.
  • Several more people have expressed an interest in getting involved. I’ll be writing an email very soon with a list of things I need help with.

Going to Napa?

Are any of you planning a trip to Napa over the next few weeks? OR, does anyone want to take a day off work and go to Napa with me? We need yeast, primary fermenters, and some chemicals. From what I hear, we may need to make a pilgrimage to the valley (oh poor us) to get them…

Some Cabernet Sauvignon Facts

I’ve started doing my Cabernet Sauvignon and Elk Grove research. Did you know:

  • Although Cabernet Sauvignon was long thought to be an ancient variety, recent studies (1997) at U.C. Davis determined that it’s a hybrid offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc (you’d think people might have gotten a hint earlier on from the name!)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon berries are small and spherical, with black, thick skins. The thick skins make them resistant to disease and spoilage.
  • taste characteristics: dark cherry, cedar, black currant, tobacco
  • Often blended with Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, or Malbec
  • In parts of France, this grape is also called Bouche, Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Sauvignon Rouge, and Vidure

What We Need

Here’s my list of things we still need to get/do before we can make a shitload of incredible wine.

1. Barrels (2)
– We’re supposedly getting 1 from Revolution Wines (in Midtown)
– Sam has one we can buy from him, and he’s even offered to take it along with his other Barrels to get it refinished!

2. Yeast
– The guy at Winemaking 101 said he swears by Lavlin 254D.

Lalvin ICV-D254: For mouthfeel in Mediterranean-style reds Lalvin ICV-D254 was selected by the ICV in 1998 from Syrah fermentations in Gallician, south of the Rhône Valley. In red wines, Lalvin ICV-D254 promises high fore-mouth volume, big mid-palate mouthfeel, intense fruit concentration, smooth tannins and a mildly spicy finish. Red wines made with Lalvin ICV-D254 may be blended with Lalvin ICV-D80 or Lalvin ICV-D21 to create more concentrated, full bodied wines. In unripe reds, ferment 25-50% of the lot with Lalvin ICV-D254 and the balance with Lalvin ICV-GRE to help mask vegetative character. As a complement to Lalvin Bourgoblanc CY3079, winemakers in North America use Lalvin ICV-D254 for fermenting Chardonnay with nutty aromas and creamy mouthfeel.

Here’s a yeast comparison chart showing the relative merits of a bunch of different ones. 254D does sound like a good choice for our Cab Sauv: I’ll do some more research.

3. Primary fermenter.

– We might be able to borrow a macro bin from Sam if the timing is right. Or, we could maybe rent one: We’ll need a truck to haul it around in. Jeff has a connection for a land cruiser we could hook a trailer to. If the macrobin doesn’t work out, we can probably get 3 44 gallon food grade fermenters (aka ‘fancy trash cans’):

4. Grape Press.
– We should be able to borrow or rent one. Otherwise, start clearing up that athlete’s foot, cause we’ll be stomping!

4. Misc Winery equipment
– Proxiclean
– Potassium metabisulfite
– Barrel care items, including: sulphur, sulphur burner. anything else, Sam?
– Barrel bungs

OK. That’s probably a long enough email for now. I should start posting these to the website. Maybe I’ll do that.


More Winery Progress!

Hey everyone,

More winery progress!

Sam and I installed the air conditioner, hung a shop light, and painted the barrel rack yesterday. The place is really shaping up.

Also, Saturday: Jeff, Sam, Margaret, and I went to the winemaking 101 class given by the Sacramento Home Winemakers. It was educational, but maybe a tad long. J Page, who was hosting the event at his house, has a pretty nice wine room setup, however, and that gave us some ideas about what to do and what not to do in ours.

We also found out about this year’s club project. The club project for the Sac Home Winemakers is the annual thing where people in the club all buy their grapes from the same winery at the same time and make wine out of them. Then, next year, you bring 2 bottles of the wine you made to the annual club project evaluation and Darryl Corti tastes and evaluates them. It’s an amazing opportunity to see how our technique and skills as winemakers stack up. This year, we’re getting Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from a vineyard in elk grove. The vineyard has been around for 25 years and is under contract with Gallo, and apparently grows some great grapes.

They’re currently expecting the grapes to be ready in late September.

So…we put in our order for 1500 lbs of grapes @ 65 cents per lb. This will make something like 90 gallons of finished wine….or roughly 38 cases (456 bottles). If we only count the cost of the grapes, our cost will be about $1000, or a little over $2/bottle. I’m estimating that other expenses will add another $1 per bottle this year. This will cover the yeast, chemicals, refinishing the barrels, and the bottles and corks (hopefully), and the other annual expenses associated with making the wine.

How I’m proposing we split up the costs is to sell shares of the wine at $36 each (one case). I don’t know quite how to put value on work put into making the wine…but maybe we should just say that if you buy shares you’re expected to help out with making the wine.

I’d like to buy at least 8 cases.

Please let me know how much you want, and if you know anyone else who might be interested in pitching in, please let them know too.