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The 2017 Spring Winemakers Dinner

2017 April 26
by Gene Fiorot

We will host our annual Spring 2017 Winemakers Dinner at Ristorante Chianti on Sunday April 3oth. The dinner’s mission is to taste newly bottled wine and works in progress.   Chef Paul is preparing a gastronomical treat for those attending.   More to come…

After all these years the Zips have been found out to be correct

2017 March 12
by Gene Fiorot

What goes around comes around.  Sorta.     

You know the Zips.  You know who they are.  The old timers who were so cheap instead of buying a new barrel, they purchased used Whiskey Barrels to store their wine in.  As beginners we were astonished at how a winemaker would consider putting his wine in a barrel to impart Whiskey flavor to their wine.  And it did.  Wine tasted like Whiskey.  The only positive thing that came out of this practice was the wine didn’t go to Volatile Acid in a bad barrel only if the wine didn’t have Volatile Acid to begin with.  Which often times the Zip’s wine did.

So I am walking through Sam’s Club in Florida buying Paper Towels and Olive Oil.  Sam’s is the best place to buy Olive Oil where I live in Florida. I come up on this display.  I will admit I am floored.  It cannot be.  Are there no rules?  Has everything I have learned gone to hell? Is there anything that matters anymore?  Heck I have just been getting over White Merlot, and that has taken a few years.

So just when I think I have seen everything about wine making here comes Mondavi with a twist.  I ponder; maybe it is designed for the Southern States. You know where the White Men Red Necks who discovered wine in their later years. Because they were accustomed to getting a buzz from beer but finding it  too filling and taking too long a time to achieve. I don’t know. I am not a Marketing Expert for Mondavi.  Even so I can recognize horse shit when I see it.

So I am standing there in front of the display taking the pictures speaking out loud to myself of the idiocy of what I am looking at when a gentleman comes by and is looking at the bottles too.  I cannot resist, my big mouth takes over.  I say, “I cannot believe anyone would be buying wine that was put in a Bourbon Barrel”.  He looks interested in having a conversation.  I add, as a winemaker we would never use a charred barrel for wine.  Oops!  He tells me he has had the wine before.  Really?!  I ask, so is it like barbeque?  No he says.  When you first open it you get the taste of Bourbon but it fades quickly. Trying to be polite I tell him, oh that’s great.  For 12 dollars a bottle he says it isn’t a bad everyday wine.  So it appears Mondavi has not only used  new charred Whiskey Barrels, has used Used Bourbon Barrels.  The Zips have been  finally liberated even if it took over 100 years.

Who knows what’s next.  Maybe some High End Producer will be putting Port in their wine to make it smoother.  Ya just never know.

Have you met Barbra? Do you like High Maintenance Babes?

2017 January 3


This is a long twisted tale beginning in 2015.  What starts off to be a perfect engagement takes an unexpected turn. Never having dated Barbra before I was unaware I would be in for quite a ride.  No, not the ride you are thinking.  Our encounter and relationship begins in October of 2015.   The Barbera grapes arrive and they are beautiful.  It was the first harvest for the new vineyard released to the public.  The 2014 harvest was made on the estate for evaluation.  The Sugar was around 25 typical of the Lanza Doctrine.  The Ph was perfect at 3.5 and the condition of the grapes was perfect.  What could go wrong?  Nothing. It was a perfect fermentation without issues going dry and to MLF completion by December.

Going in a Tank for the winter the wine was then transferred to a 60 gallon French Oak Barrel with 2 wines behind it in April.   Ron Lanza and Frank Musto came to visit and we tasted a really beautiful wine.  We were all super happy with the results.  I am guessing Barbra feeling jilted had other ideas with me leaving for Florida for the Summer to return in September.

Anthony, the Cellar Master often checks the Cellar and makes sure all is ok when I am not around.  He performed a topping during my absence and all was well.   When I returned in September I went to the cellar and noticed the bung on the Barbera Barrel was off to the side.   I thought maybe Anthony topped up and forgot to replace it.  Of course I asked him and he said no he had not topped the barrel.  When I returned to the cellar the next day the Bung was off again.   I guess Barbra was pissed.

I placed an air lock on the barrel only to watch for 3 weeks the wine going through some kind of fermentation.  Was it residual sugar?  Was it another MLF?  As far as I could tell it was neither but the air lock did not lie.   Eventually the bitch calmed down and it was time for a taste.

OH NO!  I smell and taste VA.   I feel dejected.  How can a beautiful Lady become so ugly in so little time?  Now this type of affair was not my first.  I had a similar issue with a GSM in the same barrel the year prior.  With that wine I was certain it was residual sugar.  The cure for that was a hefty addition of So2 and any trace of VA like nose was gone.  So I decided to employ the same tactic with Barbra.  Maybe she would fall in love with me again.

I waited 2 months before approaching her again.  Other winemakers kept asking me if I called her.  I admitted I was afraid.  Finally I got enough balls to open the bung and have a taste.  The VA nose was gone and that VA like taste was gone.  Perfect right?   Nope.   This is one fussy lady.

Barbra decided to throw another blockade in our relationship.  While the VA issues were gone Barbra decided to take up and have an affair with Brett. I never liked that son-of-bitch. So after all of this it comes down to me or Brett.  Now my friend Scott has a way to eliminate Brett. No Brett Inside.  So we get some, not cheap and comes with specific instructions which must be followed exactly for it to work.  Unfortunately while No Brett Inside will dispatch Brett, it will not remove his Body Odor.   The chemical compounds Brett produces is not removed with No Brett Inside.  Barbra still smells like she was in the saddle all day.  Well maybe not all day but enough to somewhat obscure her beautiful fruits.  God she had beautiful fruits. What to do? We surly have reached the end of the road with this engagement.

Coincidentally and fortuitously, in a totally unrelated post recently about Rocket Joey’s Olive Oil Space Journey, Zac Brown posted a comment about using Noblesse to cure H2S disulfide problems.  He provided a link to an excellent flow chart created by Dominique Delteil a Lallemand Consultant explaining the uses of Noblesse. I have known for years Zac’s liking of this product but I had never seen the actual recommended application in such detail by Lallemand.   In the 20 page PDF file I scrolled down to page 5 and low and behold staring me in the face was a method to remove the effects of Brett.  Will Brett finally be gone for good?

So as we speak Barbra has been sent for Cosmetic Surgery.  Her first phase is completed. We already see some improvement some fruit is returning and the saddle is diminished.   But it will be a 3 stage, three month process before it is all completed.  All we now can do is hope our relationship returns and meets our expectations.  Barbra is one high maintenance woman. Oh yes and in case you were wondering the Barrel’s future is furniture or free to a local brewery that needs Brett. They can have him.






The Winery Christmas Story

2016 December 27
by Gene Fiorot

‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all thro’ the winery ,
Not a creature was stirring, maybe an errant mouse,
The tanks were filled in the winery with care,
In hopes that  Bacchus soon would be there;
The Winemakers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of 95 points danc’d in their heads,
And Anthony in his wet sneakers, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our pumps and filters for a long winter’s nap-
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the winery to see what was the matter.
Away to the corker I flew like a flash,
Tore open the Chrusher and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Another Winemaker’s sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old Salvatore  Contradore  so lively and quick,
Not sure I thought in a moment it could be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Mike,  Dave. Frank, Andy, Nick now! Kevin, and Vixen ,

“On! Joey , Anthony and Dave and Blixem;
“Sal Please don’t fall off the wall !
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
Al prays the wine completes MLF before the wild hurricane fly,
Hoping they meet the spring bottling , mount to the sky;
So up to the winery top the corks they flew,
With the sleigh full of bottles – and Salvatore too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney came Joey Edwards came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in pink fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with sale tags and soot;
A bundle of olive oil was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a Ron Lanza just opening his pack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like Frank Musto , his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin could have been Carmine in the future as white as the snow;
The stump of a cigar, Bobby he held tight in his teeth,
And  the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He really was Gene , and a not quite so trim  round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, and not quite jolly the old self,
And Virginia laughed when she saw him in spite of herself.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



The Wine of Planet X-23YW or Olive Oil and the Malbec

2016 December 20
by Gene Fiorot

Let me preface this piece by saying I have heard about using food grade oil to top off or seal a container of wine less than filled to the top eliminating all air space.  No I have never done it. I never found the reason to do it. Much like why would never own a Prospero Waxed Barrel.  This is not the 1930’s.

Is it possible we are going to talk about the 2011 Chilean Malbec once again?  Well I guess in the interest of “Never Give Up on a Wine “  Mantra we will.   Yes the 2011 Malbec was a challenge. Plagued with H2S after the pressing it has given all of us who made it fits.  Those with less experience, lacking patience, or just plain giving up before they tried to correct the issue dumped their wine.  The Muse (lol) told kept telling them to persevere.  Some did.

When the wine first exhibited H2S after pressing the wine was treated with Reduless and a dose of Opti Red.  Nope this was not good enough.    Then the wine was treated with the Blue Bomb after a dose of Ascorbic Acid.  Yes it was a major improvement.  But there was a Nose that took away from the fruit of a young wine.

Yes we let it rest.  And we went back to it .  Yet that Nose really took away from enjoying the wine underneath.  So what to do?

My thought was to use a lot of American Oak to mask that Nose.  That strong Vanilla would surely make a difference.  I suggested others do the same.   As for mine it worked.  It is an enjoyable wine albeit if you like American Oak Vanilla or some might call Chateau Du Plywood.  Me? I don’t but I have a good stock of Beckstoffer I can turn to.  (Elitist Snob remark)   But now the story begins.

While I treated with American Oak so did the collaboration between two other winemakers.  Following the advice they added American Oak Adjuncts.  After an appropriate time they bottled the wine.  Now we all know how one can get fooled at the level of Oak when bottling only to wonder where it all went 4 months later when opening one for a taste.  In this case a year later in one case it was not enough Oak.  In mine it was fine and a very nice drinkable wine.

Now meet Rocket Joey.  I call him Rocket Joey for good reason.  A collaboration between Al and Joey.  Joey while traveling in space somewhere, Al decided to bottle the wine thinking the Oak was enough.  Rocket Joey lands from an undisclosed Universe, tastes the wine and is not satisfied.   So he decides to take alternative action learned on the planet X-23YW.   Having visited there numerous times he decides to employ a radical fix only known to him.

The Fix?  Following the procedure, remove enough wine from the carboy to the level of the shoulder add about ¼ to ½ inch of olive oil and shake the crap out of the carboy. I mean really shake to the point measured on the Richter Scale.  Let it settle for a few days.  When all the oil rises to the top you rack by sucking off the wine below the level of the oil.  Crazy?

Yes it worked.  The infamous nose was gone. ( so was the Oak) But while the fruit was apparent one new problem appeared.  The wine was slightly oxidized.

Me I think that if Rocket Joey had added a bit of K meta to the carboy after empting the corked bottles that could have been avoided. But even the inhabitants on Planet X-23YW have things to learn.





The Rules Change in New York

2016 October 31

The rules have changed in New York State.  In the past those who need to fortify wines have been forced to go to Connecticut or New Jersey to purchase 190 proof grain alcohol.  This has changed and you can now purchase 190 Proof Grain Alcohol ( Everclear, Graves) in New York State.

Might be the one

2016 October 23
by Zac Brown

Going to look at this next weekend . Might be the one , beautiful location , well known local brand , good wine . I’ve had a look at the financials the agent sent me . No red flags .

The Tale of Two Yeasts

2016 October 16


I am a lover of careful observation of fermentation kinetics.   Over many years I have learned and recorded my observations and used that experience to become a better winemaker.   Every year can be different.   Some factors which makes that so include Brix Level, Yeast Selection, Ambient Temperature, and Berry Size.

I have experienced ultra fast hot ferments and cold ones as well.  I am a fan of getting at least to mid to upper 80s.  With one half ton batches or greater obtaining that level of heat is not usually a problem.  However as all Winemakers will tell you, “Shit Happens”.    Sometimes, usually earlier in the season when Winery Temps are in the Mid 70s to low 80s ferments can get too hot.  And what is too hot?  Well if you read the manufacturer’s yeast charts anything over 88 is dangerous.  In actuality getting to the mid 90s is standard practice with some winemakers and many yeasts have no trouble in that temperature range.  Yet is seems when ambient temps drop to the 60s the risk of getting over 90 is pretty slim.

This year my goal was to go 14 days between Crush and Press.  Truthfully this was not some artisanal decision.  All I really want to accomplish is having the Team skip a weekend between the Crush and Press.   In order to accomplish this I asked Frank Musto of the Musto Wine Grape Company to deliver the grapes to me as cold as possible.  In the past I have asked Frank to leave my grapes out of the Cooler the day before so I could get a jump start and not have to wait for the temps to rise for the yeast to get busy.  This was when I wanted to finish in 7 days.

So the grapes arrived and after crushing they were 48 degrees.  Assuming you can get your grapes delivered at 48 degrees you can forget about all you read about using Dry Ice and Ice Bombs.   If you insulate your vats you can expect to be at 63 degrees and no higher in 3 probably 4 days.  So if you interest is in Cold Soaking that should be enough time without using other cooling methods.

Then there is the story about Nutrients.   The latest craze it seems, who started it I have no idea, not to use Fermaid K.  Why?   It contains DAP.   Me? So What?  I have written about DAP fear before but even then Fermaid K was ok.   It is as if DAP is considered the worst thing in the world a winemaker can use.   Never mind Trucks deliver thousands of pounds of the stuff to California Wineries every year.   It has it place and Winemakers need all kinds of tools in their tool chests.  One use is getting some Must temps up another getting rid of stinkies.

So back to the story of these two yeasts.  Can you believe the Yeast Charts when they say a yeast has moderate fermentation speed?  I don’t think so. In fact I think the following will be quite illuminating.

We start with a cooler winery in this case in the 60s.   Again the grapes arrive on Day 1 at 48

Degrees.  The Vats are wrapped with insulation.   The vats consist of 2  ½ ton Cab Sav (28 boxes each)  1200 Pounds of Petite Verdot, and 648 Pounds of Barbera.  All vats recorded 27 Brix.  Initial PH for the Cab was 3.58, and 3.71 for the PV.  The Barbera was 3.3. All vats were watered back to 25.5 Brix.  The tartaric was added, at the rate of 6 grams per litre to make up for the water addition to the Cab and PV. No acid was added with the water addition for the Barbera   The yeast for the Barbera is BM 4×4  all the others get BDX.   With the vats now unwrapped on day 3 the temps of all the vats are 63 degrees.  The yeast cultures are pitched.  On day 4 we are at 22 on the Cab and PV at 74 degrees and  18 on the Barbera.

As for the Nutrient Story all vats received Fermaid O as the Cap was forming,  Fermaid K when the Cap was established , another dose of Fermaid K at 18 Brix and a dose of Fermaid O at 12 Brix.  Now it starts to get interesting.  On Day 6 the Barbera is at 10, while the Cab and PV are at 18.  Yet the temps are 73.  Where is the heat?  I wrap the vats again to keep the heat in hoping it will rise.  It is cool in the winery.  On day 8 the Cab is at 10 and we reach 80 degrees but the Barbera is now at 1 at 77 degrees.   So much for Moderate Speed for BM 4×4.  On day 10 we reach 4 with the Cab and PV while maintaining 80 on the vats.  The Barbera is now minus ½ and on day 11 it goes to minus ¾ where it remains until pressing.  The Cab and PV continues to divide by half each day and gets to minus ½ on day 14.   Mission accomplished.

What conclusions can you draw?  For me I think with Temp the same, Brix the same to call both yeasts moderate is wrong.  Not getting higher than 80 even while the Brix dropped super quickly in the Barbera is a bit odd.  What would I do different.  Not much except with a cool winery and wanting to reach 85 degrees I think a small dose of DAP at 18 brix would have helped me get there.  Let the DAP Trolls panic.

More reading for DAP Trolls  here ….goes back to 2010 but still worth a read or a laugh…


Making Wine the 2016 Report

2016 September 7
by Gene Fiorot

It is time to begin the discussion.   Grapes are arriving soon..

As of 9/8/2016

Cool Nights and Days in the low 80s and high 70s in Suisun are creating the opportunity for long hang times allowing the grapes to get their last rise in brix very controlled and slow.   Grapes are beautiful this year and it is going to be a perfect year.   In Lodi  as well, the temps are swinging from day to night and during the day are in the 80s.   Again grapes are dark and ripe.   Even Fresno is experiencing temperature swings and temps only in the high 80s.    So this could be the vintage year to remember.   Why am I thinking Cab?




Ceja Pinot Noir and Ceja Merlot We made it.

2016 June 8
by Gene Fiorot

So nice to see this pod cast about Amelia Ceja and her family.   We have been very lucky to have made wine from their fruit.

Buon Vino Super Jet Filter I hate seeing Amateur Winemakers getting ripped off

2016 June 5

It may not seem like a big deal but replacing the check valve in my Buon Vino Super Jet Plate Filter Pump brought to light what I believe is price gouging by Winemaker Suppliers catering to Amateur Winemakers.  I do not know if this carries over to every item sold by individual suppliers    but in this case and among others a simple plastic check valve seems to be focal point to screw people.

If you own a Buon Vino Superjet Plate Filter you should know after a few years or even earlier if you leave K meta in the pump when cleaning the check valve will go bad.  You know this because the pump starts off intermittently not self priming to not priming at all.  Then you need to replace the check valve.  It is a good idea to have a few handy instead of having to order one in a hurry and not have the time to shop the item.   And boy oh boy you need to shop the item.

Well mine failed and for those who know me,  I take my own advice and had a replacement on hand.  Then I started to look to buy a few spares.  This led me to a google search for shopping. wants 59.99 , the wonderful people at want 49.00 a real bargain, wants 45.89  ( .89 ? ) , wants 34.95 but it is the old design valve, of course you can go to and buy a new complete filter for 529.99!

I am not sure how I remembered or what caused me to land on the website.   A long time ago Zac Brown recommended them as a good supplier.  I think it was the time I was looking for a semi-automatic corker.  Yes they carry Buon Vino Super Jet parts.  The valve is listed for 36.00.  Keep in mind that is Canadian Dollars.  That translates to $27.00 us.   Also if you need pads they cost less than a than a dollar a piece.

Also while I was goggling my ass off over this I found that Buon Vino markets a 6 plate Super Jet Model.   Same pump just 3 additional plates to allow for more filtering without having to change pads midstream.   Bosa carries the plates for $36.00 CA  ( $27.83 us)   Needless to say I purchased 3 plates.  Amazingly suppliers must think we are stupid.   Bosa carries the 3 plate version for $270.00 us.   and  add three plates and that makes it about $353.00 for the 6 plate  filter compared to at $599.00  of course if you really want to get screwed you can always go to to and pay 650.00

Anyway I ordered from Bosa  2 checkvalves, 48 pads , and 3 plates. and paid 25 dollars shipping to Florida. Using my credit card adjusted the exchange rate automatically.  They couldn’t be nicer people to deal with and they shipped very quickly.  Hats off to them.  As for the rest of them I hope they have google alerts when someone quotes their web address.  Then they can read this too.

Do you ever want to look in your barrel?

2016 May 16
by Gene Fiorot

Up to now looking in a barrel has been a difficult issue to accomplish or an expensive solution you may have not considered.  But fear not your prayers have been answered.   You too can afford the latest barrel inspection techniques in your winery.   Two versions of this now very affordable method.  One uses any computer the other an android phone.  Order one today and join the 21st century.

Computer Version

Android version



A Visit to the Winery on Kimball An Unexpected Pleasure

2016 May 5

Yes it is true.  I was graced by the Giants.   The Giants came for a visit to the  Winery on Kimball with one mission in mind.  To taste the wines. Yes and boy oh boy did we have wines for the Giants to taste.  About 60 percent of them Lanza / Musto Vineyards fruit.   So we tasted and tasted and augmented that tasting with some cold Italian Antipasti.  The Giants first started with  some recently barreled 2015 wine.

Then we moved on to barreled wine taken out and put into tanks ready for bottling.  By that time the Giants had destroyed the Antipasti it was a good time to leave the Winery and arrive at the Ristorante.

Of course I brought a selection older wines bottled as far back as 2011.  They ate like Animale.  These Giants really can eat.  Holy Cow.  I keep wondering why I eat half of what they eat and I am the fat fuck.   Ok I know y0u are dying to know. So the accolades from the Giants about my wine was amazing.  While some may think the Giants would say anything on a full belly, what counts for me as an honest critique.  And while the Giants can say what they want, it is really my questioning them as they drink where I flush out where it is at.  Yeah I have an ego but I am my worst critic too.   So no smoke is going to fool this old bastard and I know the flaws minor as I may think.

The results?   I could go on with all the positive comments and all the super compliments. And believe me there were.  However only comment  sticks in my mind by Ron Lanza when he said this,   “I have tasted all your wines.  Are wines are wonderful.  What is more important is you have put it on the grower of grapes who made your wine.  Me? I reply.  In other words Gene it is up to me as a grower to make your wines better.  It is you who have made wines from to fruit we provided as good as wine they can be.    Can anybody want for a better accolade than that ?     While me thinks that Phoney Corrados wouldn’t know a good wine from a Piasan they need to give  a handjob to.  If you read this be sure of one thing.  If you want the best grapes to make your wine you better go the M&M in Hartford CT and see Frank Musto. Let the rest go to Corrados and buy crap.   Thanks Giants for the visit.

A new winemaker but at Giant of a Person Carmine

A new winemaker but at Giant of a Person Carmine

Frank Musto, Ron Lanza , Todd Lanza and Carmine Serrantino.

The Giants

The Giants

What is going on at

2016 April 2
by Gene Fiorot


Bottling & barrel filling

2016 March 21
by Zac Brown