Skip to content

Sourcing Grapes in the Northeast for 2015

2015 August 19


News Flash!!! 8/20/2015   The Hartford Report

Get Ready Fellas this year is coming early, fast and for the most part all at once.   We expect to start our first crush on September 12,2015  if making Lanza fruit be prepared other varietals will be coming on or about that date.  We could be done by the first week in October.   Yes you read that correctly.



Every year we start a thread like this. And every year there are always surprises and even some disappointments.  I am sure this year will be no different. For those smart winemakers who source grapes from the M&M Grape Company we have some very nice news at this pre-harvest time.  More than once Frank Musto has increased the availability of varietals from areas which were not previously available.  This year Frank’s company is doing it again.  First up….

Suisun Valley Lanza Barbera.   This 5 year old vineyard produced its first harvest last year.   The Lanzas reported making some very nice Barbera from these grapes.  With this year expecting it to be even better some of our club members will be making this varietal for the first time.  It is exciting to think we can make a quality Barbera with the expectation of results from Lanza Fruit.

Next Up a New Varietal for the first time on the East Coast.    Lagrein.    What you have nerve heard of this varietal?  Have you not traveled to Trentino Alto Adige?  The home of Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio.  For me making a Northern Italian/Austrian Border red tannic wine grown predominantly in South Tyrol is especially interesting me as my Father was and my relatives live in this location in Italy.  While we would love to make these Italian grapes the Lagrein M&M will receive are growing in very small quantities in Lodi California.   Nevertheless a new varietal is coming and we have to try them so should you.

Certainly not a new varietal but one which always presents itself as a problem getting good fruit.   Yes good thinking.   Grenache Noir for GSM.  Undaunted Frank Must has worked hard every year getting the best Grenache Noir.  This year is no different.   Head Pruned Grenache Noir planted and grown by an 85 year old grower.   Just look at the picture and try and guess.  How old are

Lanza Barbera  19.5 Brix 8/18/15

Lanza Barbera 19.5 Brix 8/18/15

these vines?

Lagrein from Lodi

Lagrein from Lodi

Head Pruned Grenache

Head Pruned Grenache

Amici’s Beachside Bistro Melbourne Florida a Winemakers Slice of Heaven

2015 August 1
Amici's Beachside Bistro

Amici’s Beachside Bistro

One of the best things about being a winemaker is taking your wine to a restaurant and enjoying a great meal. We are always looking for Restaurants who have a reasonable corkage fee so bringing wine makes sense. Last year we discovered Amici’s Beachside Bistro 1940 North Hwy A1A, Melbourne, FL 32937. Just across the street from the Atlantic Ocean a small Bistro close to our home.

We were very impressed with the food and the service when we went this past Valentines Day. I am sure you know not to expect the best on certain holidays but we were more than pleasantly surprised. When we were there we asked if they allow bringing your own wine if they had a cork fee. They were very open to the idea and welcomed us bringing wine. I mentioned I was a winemaker and they explained one person on staff had trained as a sommelier.
We finally returned to Amici’s last month with a party of 5. I brought 4 bottles of wine, one for the Chef. I like to do that when I bring wine to a restaurant. Instantly we were greeted at the table by the Chef thanking us for the wine and asked what we wanted to eat. We were satisfied with the menu and the specials but he insisted he would make anything we wanted. Remembering the Pasta Carbonara I had on Valentine’s day I asked him to make it for the table. His eyes lit up that I even remembered it. But truly that was not hard to do because it was amazing. I suggested our waiter bring some glasses and have him, the chef and the sommelier taste the wines I brought that night.
As the meal progressed we opened the different varietals I brought that evening and by the time dessert came around the Chef , the Sommelier and the Waiter were drinking with us at the table. We had a blast and I think I had the best time of all watching them enjoy and making comments on my wines. When we were about to leave the Chef made a proposal. If we would come back next Friday night around 8:30 when things would not be so busy he would cook for us an entire dinner, no menus. A special dinner prepared just for us. Now how can you refuse that offer? We didn’t.
As planned we arrived and were ushered to our table where we found a special menu listing five wonderful specialties. We started with a Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Bruschetta Butter. Then on to freshly made Lobster Ravioli in a beautiful Pesto Cream. It can’t get better right?. A Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Charred Asparagus and Citrus Vinaigrette a Tuscan favorite was the perfect dish for the Super Tuscan I brought. And then when you think it can’t get better we were served Sirloin Braciole with Broccoli Rabe/Pine Nuts/Goat Cheese with a Sweet Pea and Mushroom Risotto. How happy was I thinking to bring the Geroges III 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon for that dish. For dessert Chef Paul made a Bourbon Vanilla Panna Cotta perfect pairing with my 2014 Lanza Moscato Cannelli and the Sommelier’s gift of a bottle of Mer Soleil ‘Late’ Viognier, Santa Lucia Highlands, USA. A great end to a perfect culinary experience.
Besides it being imperative to have dinner at this restaurant if you are in Melbourne Florida, what is the moral of the story for winemakers? Discover your local restaurants and bring your wine and share it. You never know what can develop. Besides it is a lot of fun and very satisfying for any Winemaker who is proud of his wines. Buon Appitito!

Chef Paul's Menu

Chef Paul’s Menu

Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Bruschetta Butter

Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Bruschetta Butter

Lobster Ravioli in  Pesto Cream

Lobster Ravioli in Pesto Cream









Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Charred Asparagus and Citrus Vinaigrette

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Charred Asparagus and Citrus Vinaigrette


Sirloin Braciole with Broccoli Rabe/Pine Nuts/Goat Cheese with a Sweet Pea and Mushroom Risotto.

Sirloin Braciole with Broccoli Rabe/Pine Nuts/Goat Cheese with a Sweet Pea and Mushroom Risotto.


Bourbon Vanilla Panna Cotta

Bourbon Vanilla Panna Cotta

Owner Dave on Left Hungary , Hungry New Yorker Carlo, Chef Paul on Right

Owner Dave on Left , Hungry New Yorker Carlo, Chef Paul on Right


Mer Soleil 'Late' Viognier, Santa Lucia Highlands, USA.

Mer Soleil ‘Late’ Viognier, Santa Lucia Highlands, USA.

New World Winemaker Articles

2015 July 31
by Zac Brown

I thought I’d share one of my favorite sites for advanced winemaking articles .

It should find fertile ground here .

Monitoring your Cellar Temperature.

2015 July 26

Awhile back I posted here how I was monitoring my Cellar Temperature when I was away from the winery.  I was using La Crosse equipment.  It did the job and certainly was a very reasonable cost effective way to stay on top of things.   However as time went on a few gliches started to appear.  Battery life for no explained reason was very erratic as was loss of sensor signal at times.  Not the worst thing in the world but a pain.  Then there was instances where the internet router link would go down requiring a power down and up procedure, hard to do when you are not there.  I addressed this with using a cheap 24 hour 120 volt ac timer to shut off once a day for 15 minutes.   Also the system requires a recurring subscription in order to receive email and text message alerts.

My last failure however was not that simple.  Which caused me to purchase another system.  Sadly the new system went down shortly thereafter. Customer service and tech support was adequate but complicated routines to get the system working really started to annoy me so I started to look for an alternative.   I found one.

This new system is sold by   To begin it is very reasonable in price and even better it is much more simplified in its operation and setup. Customer service is tops and they can take over your system and make the adjustments themselves leaving you only to wait for it to occur.  I purchased a Weather Station unit display, a router link, and 3 sensors for under one hundred dollars.  Even Even better is there are no subscription charges to receive text messages or emails when your temperature and humidity points go out of range.  Even Even Even better there is an App on my Iphone for monitoring.   So far the system has been working flawlessly.  If you need to monitor your cellar temperature  this is the way to go.


iphone acuweather








The original system and post here…

July 2015 Wine Tip Scott Labs free shipping in July

2015 July 24

It is still July with a few days left to take advantage of the free shipping policy of Scott Labs.   Even if you are a small buyer the overnight ML bacteria shipment alone can get quite expensive.   I take advantage of this every year.  Be sure not to forget to ask them to include the 2015 fermentation guide with your order.

How much Wine is in that Box of Grapes?

2015 July 18

I thought I would share my experience of yield in gallon per box of grapes by varietal.   I was reading a thread on the subject and as usual the information was seriously lacking.  Please feel free to add your experiences and varietals I not included in the chart.

Yield of Wine in gallons per 36 pound box of grapes

This chart assumes the following.

  1.  You did not add water to lower brix.
  2.  Using a basket press or bladder press , you press until the flow stops , break down the cake, fluff it up and reload the press and press a second time.
  3. Amounts are at pressing before racking off lees.
  4. You used maceration enzymes.


Varietal                                             Gallons per Box

Zinfandel                                           2.9-3.1

Allicante Bouchet                            2.9-3.1

Carignane                                          2.8-3.0

Merlot                                                2.6-2.8

Cab Sav                                               2.6-2.8

Pinot Noir                                          2.5-2.7

Syrah                                                   2.7-2.9

Grennache                                         2.7-2.9

Mouverdre                                        2.7-2.9

Napa Gamay                                     2.8-3.0

Sangiovese                                        2.7-2.9

Petite Sirah                                        2.8-3.0



The 2015 Sonoma/ Napa Grower Report.

2015 July 9
by Gene Fiorot

Light Crop, Shatter, Pretty Much on time if not a bit early still.   All the details are here…..

I love California

2015 June 26
by Gene Fiorot

I love California.   More so I love the people who grow the grapes I make my wine from.   But there has to be something wrong with these good folks if they take this shit.  Yet it seems they do….

The Club 2015 Spring Wine Tasting Dinner… a few observations

2015 May 18

Needless to say the Dinner was a success and it is no surprise the Food at Gina Marie’s Restorante Chianti was spectacular.   While it was not the largest group this time around there was a fabulous array of wines of members attending.   So what were my impressions?

To begin the quality of the wines were incredible.  We had a new member attend and his second wine ever from grapes made from Central Valley grapes proved one point.  You can make a very nice wine with Central valley grapes if you know what you are doing.   There is no question Nick Mandikas knows what he is doing.

The Lanza Petite Sirah was represented by 2 different winemakers.  Both 100% varietal.   If you like them big you or like getting hit over the head by a Two By Four you  need to make this wine.  I am really interested in seeing how this wine develops in the bottle over a few years.

The Lanza/ Musto Sangiovese was  again represented by two winemakers.   But in a Super Tuscan form of varying varietal components.   The takeaway is the Sangiovese is the dominant varietal in the blend even when it was paired with a Lake  County Cab at 50% proportion.  I have made this grape since the first harvest of this new vineyard.   Make no mistake it gets better each year.

Sadly getting Beckstoffer grapes will be a challenge going forward but the 2012 Las Amigas Merlot is off the charts after a 2 year stint in French Oak.  Just bottled it will be fun to see how this develops in the next year or two.

My recently bottled 2011 Alexander Valley Cab Sav finally made its debut.   With the help of some last minute Petite Verdot before bottling the wine is finally balanced and elegant.   Not your Napa Cab by any means.

Looking for a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon to make?   Look no farther than the new Lanza/ Musto Clone 169 Vineyard.  We tasted the 2014 version and were so impressed with the structure, nose, and character.    It can only be better for 2015.   We have our order locked in already I wouldn’t miss it.  And to be sure the PH and acid makes it a perfect compliment to the Koch Cab which tends to have a higher ph.

I brought out my just bottled 2012 Beckstoffer Georges III Cab Sav.   Back to the future t0 2009  Skipping over the 2010 vintage.  I am excited about the prospect of a redux of 2009 with this wine.  A few years will tell.

There were many other comments and thoughts which were shared that evening.  My only advice is to attend the next tasting dinner and see for yourself.  I might even let you taste my lanza Moscato Canelli.

The Early 2015 Outlook Rumors as well

2015 May 14

Ask me no questions I tell you no lies…

Lodi Hail Storm murders Zinfandel Vines.   Look for higher prices for Lodi Zinfandel in 2015

Almond Milk Craze causes growers to pull out grape vines in Central Valley to plant Nut Trees.  Nuts use more water than grapes.  Go figure.

Market Pressure again increasing on Cabernet Sauvignon   Look for higher prices.

Famous Suisun Grower offering for the first time a new Italian Varietal.    Shhhhh   Barbara   word has it as excellent as the current Sangiovesse from the area.

Make Napa  Gamay while it is still available…. one never knows.

Famous Lodi Packer planting a host of Italian varietals and having a Baby too…  Congratulations Compari

Key M&M Grape Company Staff Member getting married next week.

This winemaker looking at Pinot Noir and Merlot from the Russian River for 2015

Oh and LOL Corrados is still searching for its Chilean  grapes.  I am sure they are somewhere Jimmy if you look hard enough.

Speaking of Chilean Grapes at M&M.  The berries are tiny, the seeds are dark brown, the brix is perfect and the condition of the grapes look perfect.   Congratulations to the NEW grower/packer for doing a great job.   Another attempt at Malbec in 2016 could be in the cards judging by these grapes.

Chuck Wagner planted 30 acres of Cab Sav on the ridge directly above the Koch Vineyard.   What does that tell you ?

Spring Winemakers dinner May 15, 2015   Another Gastronomical Adventure in store.   Be there or Be square.

Stay tuned more to come…..but you know that already you read it here


Beckstoffer off the Charts but maybe not, who am I to say?

2015 May 10

Many of us are not only fans of Beckstoffer grapes,  we have made these grapes into fine wine.  Really fine wine!   Market forces and other considerations took this opportunity away for us after 2012.   But we still have hope one day we will get the opportunity to make these wonderful grapes into wine.   For those just reading this for the first time,  you can search the many of the references to Beckstoffer made on this blog.  For the lazy I can tell you we have made multiple times the Rutherford Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon,  The Oak Knoll Orchard Ave Merlot, The Las Amigas Merlot and Pinot Noir and on one  occasion we made the famed Oakville Missouri Hopper Cabernet Sauvignon.   The latter a stones throw from the Beckstoffer pinnacle,  the To Kalon Vineyard.

I still have kept hope that one day, by some odd turn of events, we would obtain a pittance amount of grapes from the To Kalon vineyard.  Only if to say, We made it!   Sadly, that is not going to happen anytime soon if ever.   Gaetano shared this article with me and I thought everyone who has Beckstoffer anything in his cellar should read this.    I could say some things but I will wait, other than to say, you could have picked me off the floor when I read it.  Read it fellas.

Click here for the article


Sources and Standardization of Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) for Titratable Acidity Testing

2015 April 30

Article Written and Provided by: Dave Coleman

Background and Problem with NaOH Shelf Life

Years ago when I worked at a local home brew and winemaking store in Pittsburgh, PA, one of my many tasks was measuring out 0.1N NaOH to be used as a neutralizing solution for Titratable Acidity testing kits. Now, a fair amount of NaOH neutralizer was sold, but, there was a 10 gallon jug of the shit in the back room that must have been there for years. read more…

Hail Storm Ends hope of Argentinian Grapes at the M&M Grape Company for 2015

2015 April 28

With all the hopes of those making an Argentinian Malbec came this news,

“In Argentina, as harvest approached, a freak storm cell dropped several inches of hail into the vineyards of our Argentinean partner resulting in nearly a 100% crop loss. This loss has meant there will be no grapes from Argentina this 2015 season. The good news is that for those who were interested in switching to Chilean, that option has been available.”

British Columbia Wine studio…

2015 April 15
by Zac Brown


First it was Arsenic now it is Cooties in the wine.

2015 April 1
by Gene Fiorot

Oh My God this is really getting serious…