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Sourcing Wine Grapes in the Northeast 2013

2013 August 14

As the Harvest approaches we will keep a running up date on Harvest and Varietal Information for the 2013 Season. The latest information still indicates the season will be early. The temperatures have dropped to the 80s in Suisun and in the 50’s at night. Perfect and it should stay like that for the next 10 days according to the weather reports.

Here are the latest sugar levels at the Lanza/Musto Vineyards of Wooden Valley Suisun California.

Merlot Lanza Musto– 20.00-21.5o

Cabernet Sauvignon – Valley, Scarlet Ranch – 17.50-19.50

Cabernet Sauvignon Koch – 20.00-20.50

Petite Syrah Scarlet Ranch – 19.50 – 21.00

Syrah Valley – 20.00 -21.00

Malbec Lanza Musto – 18.50-19.50

Primitivo Lanza Musto – 19.50-21.00

Sangiovese Lanza Musto – 20.00-20.50

Gamay – 18.50-20.00

Sauvignon Blanc – 19.50-20.00

Pinot Noir – 18.50-19.50

As usual we will update as information becomes available.

In addition Frank Musto and the M&M Grape Company have added to the Beckstoffer Grape offerings in Napa with additional Napa sourced grapes and for the first time will be sourcing grapes from Lake County. Another M&M Grape Company First! More to come on this.

125 Responses leave one →
  1. Glenn permalink
    August 15, 2013

    come on now Gene, cant put a tease like new beckstoffer and not spill the beans. was looking at some this year as a treat.

  2. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    August 15, 2013

    Oh boy now there is an example of writing a very confusing and misleading sentence. And yet a true one of sorts. To be clear there are grapes in Napa in addition to the Beckstoffer line up from Atlas Peak Stage Coach Vineyards. AND there is an addition to the Beckstoffer Line up but this time Cab Sav from Lake County. In addition to Beckstoffer’s Lake County Cab Sav there are other varietals from Lake County Red Hills which are not Beckstoffer. We have reserved a 1/2 ton of the Beckstoffer Lake County Cab Sav. But be aware that these Lake County Grapes come only in 1/2 ton bins.

  3. Glenn permalink
    August 16, 2013

    thanks for the clarification, i was just teasing. want to pickup some beckstoffer this year to bring my collection up another notch. sonoma to lanza to beckstoffer, stocking up for the future.

  4. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    August 16, 2013

    I know, after reading it again I confused myself. LOL. One thing you can’t go wrong with the GIII Bullet Proof. The Lake County sourced grapes is something I have been talking about with Frank Musto for a few years. Now we have a shot. Albeit in 1/2 ton bins which excludes many Amateurs you have to keep in mind it is the first year getting these grapes and the logistics are not in place for Field Lug packing. Having them sent for House Packing would not add to the quality of the fruit received. This is why the Lanza grapes are so perfect. They are packed with the utmost control in the field.

  5. Rocco permalink
    August 16, 2013

    Hey Gene are these the bull dogs grapes you soured a few years back?Lake county?Thats what we were getting back in 07.???I think!! hard to keep track!!! Might open an old thread….

  6. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    August 16, 2013

    Rocco LOL NO! BullDog was working in 2007 and 08 for Brutocao Vineyards in Mendocino County. We have never had Lake County Grapes. Never!

  7. Proud Puppy permalink
    August 16, 2013

    Might open an old thread…. I think you meant an old wound…. LOL

  8. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    August 17, 2013

    So right you are Puppy! Sharp!

  9. crazy run ranch permalink
    August 28, 2013

    You guys are pretty quiet. You making wine yet or busy getting ready? Pinot and Chardonnay are starting to come off here and some Sauvignon Blanc. Brought in my first grapes (from a outside vineyard) last Saturday, starting to ferment today. I’ll never get tired of the smell of fermentation. Cheers to ’13!

  10. Dan Lodico permalink
    August 28, 2013

    Just waiting on the word to “go”….hopefully not before my daughter’s wedding in 10 days.

  11. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    August 28, 2013

    On your mark……

  12. Anatoli permalink
    September 4, 2013

    Guys, do you happen to know what yield should I expect from Pinot Noir, please? I have mixed answers with online search. Thanks!

  13. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 4, 2013

    Well to give you a definitive answer is tough. It depends on pressing style, use of enzymes and the grapes themselves. But here is how I approach this for all varietals. Pinot Noir is a low yield one. For for a 36 pound box to be totally safe with finished amount before first racking I would say 2.5 gallons per pox. Usually I expect 2.6 and am happy with 2.7. Cab and Merlot seem to end up at 2.7 -2.8. Petite Verdot 2.6-2.7. Zin and PSirah 2.8-3.0 .
    Hope this helps

  14. Anatoli permalink
    September 4, 2013

    Thank you for your answer! You covered nearly all variety I plan to make this year 🙂 Should I expect a large difference between basket press and bladder? I use basket, I gather you use bladder. I read the difference is 5-10% in yield, is it that much?

  15. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 4, 2013

    We always break down and re fill both types of presses and our experience is about the same for both. Most guys don’t know how to break down a basket press , fluff up , and refill. Others say it makes too tannic a wine. Not our experience. We press the bladder to 3.0 hg and we break down as well.

  16. Zac Brown permalink
    September 5, 2013

    I’m riding my ducati down to San Francisco this week , been cruising throu Oregon , grapes around here almost ready .

    I’ve got 500 lbs of Lodi merlot arriving at my door the day after I return on sept 14th .

    Then I expect my 3000 lbs of Washington merlot Sangiovese and Pinot noir to arrive mid October , about 2 weeks earlier than normal .

    Can’t wait , I didn’t make wine in 2011 or 2012

  17. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 9, 2013

    My daughter’s wedding went off without a hitch on Saturday, so now I’m ready. With all of the talk of the early harvest, and my decision to do a Pinot Noir, I was getting worried I was going to get a call to make the trip this weekend.

    Bring it on.

  18. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 18, 2013

    OH Boy it looks like it is going to rain Lanza Grapes this weekend ( Sept 21-22) More vats needed. Lesson, you can never have enough vats LOL!

  19. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 18, 2013

    Super!!! I was gettin a little tired of string at FLossy louse…lol

  20. carmine Frattaroli permalink
    September 19, 2013

    It’s show time let the crushing begin !!!!!!!!!!!!! happy crushing.

  21. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 19, 2013

    Right you are Carmine. In years past we all wax on about how to approach a crushing etc, etc. this year the only thing that seems appropriate is ” Gentlemen Start Your Crushers”

  22. Zac Brown permalink
    September 20, 2013

    I got my first batch yesterday , 500 lbs of merlot from a small producer in Lodi . Received it 24 hours after it was picked .

    Posting about it on fb.

  23. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 21, 2013

    Nice Logistics!! my Man!

  24. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 21, 2013

    Took delivery today of the 2013 Chilean Malbec. Thawed to perfection by Frankie Juice. For the record 36 Pails were on one pallet taken out of the deep freeze one week ago and moved to the M&M Cooler. for 5 days. Then on Thursday of this week the pallet was moved outside of the cooler. The must arrived today (Saturday) at 58 degrees thawed perfectly and no action in the pails. Good to know for the future. Adjusted the Acid as the PH was over 4.0 got the Ph down to 3.8 with a TA of .70 Probably will have to make additional adjustments post fermentation. These numbers were not a surprise as M&M provided them in the Spring. We confirmed them today. The ton was split in 1/2 ton vats with D80 and D254 as the selected yeast. Talk about Cold Soak this Must has a beautiful color now all we have to do is preserve it.

    The Lanza Musto Sangiovese looks not only great but the numbers were very respectable. Brix of 26 Oh Yeah and a ph of 3.67 Off to the races with that one with BM 4X4 and a strong culture. At 18 Brix MLF will commence.

    The Lanza Petite Sirah looked like the Breasts of Jane Mansfield. Talk about tight big clusters. The tightest bunches I think I have ever seen and if I have, these never fail to amaze. Deep in at the stem not a trace of mold nothing but perfect. Also keeping with tradition the Brix was 26. The PH was not as low as we would like at 3.88. We made some adjustment to this as well. 18 Brix MLF is planned as well. We went to Rockpile to do the work on this batch.

  25. Frank Torres permalink
    September 23, 2013

    I am just curious.

    Is anyone planning on doing either the Cab or Merlot from Stage Coach – Atlas Peak? I just placed an order with M&M today.

  26. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 23, 2013

    We are making the Stage Coach Merlot but we are making another offering from Rutherford which we will not mention even if we are tortured.

  27. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 24, 2013

    Crushed the Lanza Musto Pinot Noir. Very Nice some raisins but all and all very nice. Brix 26 Ph 4.02 lowered to 3.7 by raising the 4.9 TA to 6.5.

    Crushed the Lanza Primitivo beautiful as usual. Brix 26 Ph 3.77

  28. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 25, 2013

    I am doing both Atlas Peak Merlot and Cab, and will post about the numbers asap when I pick them up. Rutherford, huh Gene. Vee have VAYS of making you tell!!!!

  29. Frank Torres permalink
    September 25, 2013

    I will be interested in seeing what numbers you get on the Atlas Peak. We are doing frozen must since we are in Atlanta so we will be a couple weeks behind you in the process.

    We settled on the Stage Coach since we couldn’t get the Georges III this year. I am hoping the quality will be similar. Have you guys worked with the fruit before?

  30. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 26, 2013

    No I have not used this fruit and afaik this is the first time M&M is offering it as well. As for the quality, there are many high end wines that have been made from this fruit, so they should uphold their reputation. As soon as I see them and either go with the fruit or change my choice I
    will let you know. Gene and Co also have a way of letting you know the quality of at least the Merlot as well, so there is a dependable consensus at the very least.

  31. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 26, 2013

    Atlas Peak is going to be different than Rutherford. A few years ago we did get grapes from the outer boundaries of Atlas Peak. This was the Looney MacKensie Grapes. The Merlot was very nice although not the same as the Oak Knoll Merlot that we also made. We never made the Cab at that time. I have no doubt that the Cab will be very nice. Let’s face it there are no bad grapes in Napa. I am taking delivery on Wednesday as well. Along with that I am getting the Lake County cab in half ton bins, that will be a first not only on Lake County Grapes but Half Ton Bins. Dare I say whose vineyard. Nope!

    @Puppy Ron we have Bobby this year fermenting very small batches 6 lugs etc in Brutes. Getting temperatures up seem to be a problem. Can you offer some advice in this arena as I have little experience with temperature fermentation kinetics with small batches.

  32. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 26, 2013

    I have 7 lugs in a 32 gallon Brute. Man, it’s really close to the top. So far OK.

    Ambient room temp is 63F. I’m doing the Sangio, same numbers as Gene’s, 26Brix, pH 3.62.

    4X4 yeast, hydrated with GoFerm.. Must was 65 when I pitched. I added 30g Fermaid O before pitching. Pitched it on Monday, 6PM, after atemperating 5 hours. It was robust.

    by Tuesday 6AM fermentation had started, with a little mini-cap.Temp was 64F
    By 6 PM (24 hours post pitch) we had a cap, Temp was 66F

    Wed: 6AM – Brix 22.5, Temp 70F going nicely
    7PM Brix 18 (approximately 1/3 done), and temp was 75F
    I added 25g Fermaid K and 25g DAP
    also added 12.5g Opti-malo and MLB cultured several days following the Apple Juice, Wine culture method (using Bachus)

    Thursday 6AM, punch down, temp was 85, fermentation cooking along, cap right to the top of my Brute. NO Brix reading this AM, will do that this evening.

    No external heat applied, but I do have a couple of blankets over the Brute. I will punch down a few extra times today, and monitor the heat closely.

    Any thoughts on how the MLB will do at 85F?

  33. Anatoli permalink
    September 26, 2013

    you should be good at 85F
    “Higher fermentation temperatures which is more conducive to LAB growth and an earlier completion of MLF. The optimal temperatures for malolactic fermentation is between 20-37°C (68-98.6°F) while the process is significantly inhibited at temperatures below 15°C (59°F). “

  34. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 26, 2013

    Glad you responded with facts to this question. My gut reaction was if you can rehydrate at 80 degrees then you should be good in the range of 80 plus to a certain degree. Regarding Co-Fermenting with ML bacteria. I did an Accuvin Test to the Sangiovese after crush and obtained a 500ppm reading. It will be interesting at pressing to see what if any MLF has occurred. In light of this attempt having achieved 5 brix this morning at 85 degrees I decided to wrap the vat with insulation to keep the heat in as we get to zero brix. Normally I wouldn’t be that concerned if the temps dropped to 70 before pressing. But I am thinking I want to give the bacteria every opportunity to work at optimum temperatures while in the vat. The test will tell.

  35. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 26, 2013

    Just did a punch down (6PM) and a Brix check. Temp is 88, Brix down to 7.

    Those yeastie boys been busy today.

    I”ve taken the blankets off for a while, but when I punch down before bed time, I’ll cover back up for the same reasons as Gene.

    I’m expecting to press on Sunday.

  36. rst permalink
    September 26, 2013

    Wanted to share that I picked up the Potter Valley Pinot Noir this week. The grapes looked great and I am happy with the numbers (24 brix, 3.39 pH, 5.2 TA).

    I crushed leaving ~25% whole berries and they have been cold soaking for the past 48 hours with lallezyme. The weather has been perfect for this with the cold nights we have had.
    I will split the batch into two tonight and pitch with 3001 and AMH along with opti-red, booster rouge and possibly oak dust. This is my first time making pinot and I’ve hijacked bzac’s recommendations he has posted in the forums (thank you).

    I am still trying to figure out why M&M calls these grapes “Russian River”. Being located at the head of the river in the mountains doesn’t seem to really justify the designation…. maybe I am missing something.

  37. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 26, 2013

    A very early harvest and all coming in at the same time has led to not getting the information we have had in the past.

  38. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 27, 2013

    Sorry on the delay responding Gene. With ambient temps and 3 lugs per brute I usually peak at mid 80’s without any measures. A little lower with bdx as it is slower and steadier. Last 2 yrs I stuck with GRE as I liked the result, and noted a liuttle denser wine on the second year, possibly not related to the GRE, but I like the results. Probably using again.

    No help here with the MLF co-ferment. I add after AF.
    I don’t have my ferment or the MLF at garage or outdoor temps as I am in a storage facility, so unless really frigid outside, usually temps are mid 60s to upper 60s this time of year

  39. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 27, 2013

    Thanks Puppy. Well this morning we are all down to plus 1 with the exception of the Sangiovese at 5 brix down from 10 yesterday. My guess is tomorrow it will be at 2 and I have another 24 hours to get to zero. It will be a close call. But for the Sunday pressing there is no stopping now with another 1 1/2 tons arriving on Wednesday. All vat temps are holding at 85 with few degree raising in the Sangiovese. At ten brix to five brix seeing a temp rise is unique. Of course it can be attributed to wrapping the vat but it does show a healthy fermentation where one might think it was getting sluggish when compared to the others which already are at plus 1.

    As far as I am concerned temperature monitoring during fermentation is one of the most important things a winemaker can learn about making wine.

  40. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 27, 2013

    Gene, regarding your comment about monitoring temps, is that because it helps you figure out if it’s moving along, or because you want to ferment at certain temps for extraction?

    Or both? or neither, ?

  41. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 27, 2013

    Puppy, is that an indoor heated storage facility, or a garage type?

  42. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 27, 2013

    To answer your question I will try to do so by asking rhetorical ones.

    With the mass of a 1/2 ton and an ambient room temp of 66. We start at 26 brix at 60 degrees and get a cap at 65 within 2 days. It is time to add the first addition of Fermaid K. Now we watch the temps rise. We get to 80 with a brix of 18. Is this too hot too fast? Do we cut back on our second Fermaid K addition and or forget about DAP Or we are at 72 with a brix of 18 do we need to think about some DAP. We hit 85 at 16 brix. Are we worried we may exceed 90 by the time we get to 12 brix? Or we hit 12 brix and the temp has dropped to 78 should we have wrapped the vat?, It is our last chance to add DAP do we? or do we insulate the vat and see if we can maintain the 78 through 6 brix? Or if at 12 brix we find the next day the temp is down a few degrees and we are at only 10 brix instead of 6-8 brix. Do we add Fermaid O?

    After many fermentations using a set of yeasts that are familiar year after year you get to know the answers to these questions. To me the temperature is the crystal ball while the hydrometer in the newscaster.

  43. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 27, 2013

    Dan, it is indoor with summer AC and winter heating. Autumn temps are 65 to 70 deg and only deep winter does it bottom out at 55 or so. works great for a natural CS to drop any tartrates out and glaze over any sediment that is present.

  44. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 27, 2013

    I heard a rumor from Fairfield today. This year’s Valdiguié , known by another name, is outstanding and on its way to Yonkers NY. Where we wait for its arrival as we put in place our secret blend for the season. Now I am getting excited! Beckstoffer who? LOL

  45. crazy run ranch permalink
    September 27, 2013

    Interesting comments on temperature, Gene. I’m always hearing people talk about taking sugar readings daily. I guess that would be nice but when I have a bunch of fermenters going, punching each down 3-4 times per day, and trying not to loose my other job, I just don’t have time. I always take a temperature reading, its quick and useful. I can move the thermometer to the next bin while punching the first. I add the second nutrient when the ferment starts making a decent amount of its own heat. Say it started at 60, climbed to 65 ambient, then increases to 70 or so, that’s when I add. Is that at 1/3 sugar? I don’t know the 1/3 thing is just a guideline (I say that about a lot of things I dont want to pay attention to). I don’t take sugar readings until I see the temperature drop for the first time. Then I have a baseline in case it drops drastically after that. When I checked years ago, the temperature curve and sugar depletion are pretty damn close. I don’t add DAP unless it gets stinky and vigorous punch downs don’t help.

  46. bobby permalink
    September 28, 2013

    the highest temp i got was mid 70’s after transferring them to the boiler room, started malo at 16briks and today im still at mid 70’s and 1brik

  47. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 28, 2013

    Temps today: 6AM 88

    8PM……..85….Brix at 8PM..0.3

    so, I pitched on Monday, and here on Friday, Brix is 0.3

    Curve was : Monday Tues AM PM Wed Thurs Friday
    temp 63 66 70 70-75 85-90 90-85

    Brix. 26 24 18 7 0.3

    I took all of the Brix readings in the evenings.

    Any concerns with this curve? Too hot, too fast? Basically a 4 day ferment.

  48. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 28, 2013

    I routinely was getting 3 to 4 day ferments with D254. Only a problem if there was yeast stress and H2S production started. I do thinh on those speedy ferments it tended to happen a bit more.
    I think with the Fermaid-O you are in a better position so not to get the crazed crack junky crash of the yeast after they get fed a junk meal of less preferable nitrogen. (especially DAP) .

    Otherwise I think the fast ferment is no big deal unless you get too hot. Some think it blows off the more fruit forward volatiles. I dont get the rapid ferments now, as I do whole berry ferments, which are a little more controlled and steady.

  49. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 28, 2013

    Well I am told the French love hot ferments for the Pinot Noir kinda flies in the face of blowing off fruit foward volatiles. This year’s 254 vat led the pack by about 2 degrees and 12 hours. The malbec is a bit gassy. Not getting panicky but it is Chilean. I like your curve Dan for this time of year but I do get worried about 90 then again Paul Gatti laughs at me as they see that all the time. LOL 1/3 sugar or is 1/4 sugar. But it does fall in line. Bobby was missing Dan’s blankets. Get some blankets Bobby.

  50. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 28, 2013

    Gene, I also suspect the volume of must that I had in the Brute was a factor.

    I crammed 7 lugs in a 32 gallon Brute. When the cap rose, I had virtually no margin of error. In fact, I kept the floating thermometer in the must when I covered it, and there were a few times when the thermometer was actually working like a tent pole, pushing the center of the cover above the level of the cap.
    I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to get 7 lugs in a 32 gallon Brute, it could have gotten ugly.
    Anyway the volume of must to the surface area of the cap probably helped hold heat in as well.

    -.04 Brix this morning, temp still in low 80s….pressing tomorrow…

  51. Anatoli permalink
    September 29, 2013

    Gene, what do you mean by “gassy”talking about Malbec?

  52. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 29, 2013

    Gassy. Well in a few words Gassy not H2S that would be too extreme. A sweet ferment that would be too nice. Something there that hits the nose as gas not pleasant. Have I seen this before, yes on a few occasions. Can it go away with just racking? Yes. Will It? ? I hate Chilean Grapes always have and always will. Thanks Al for the revisit I didn’t need.

  53. Dave O'Brien permalink
    September 29, 2013

    Gene, I agree the smell was neither strong nor overly offensive. I think it dissipated considerably during the press. Will the racking in a couple of days effect the qulaity of our MLF?

    On another note, after dealing with the “gassy” Malbec the contrasting wonderful aroma of black cherry of the Sangiovese was incredible. And of course the Petite Sirah was a tannic bomb. Amazing the three completely different wines that were pressed today.

  54. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 30, 2013

    The Mlf should be ok. We will test in 30 days as see where we are at while we keep it warm. The Sangiovese is already bubbling the airlock in the tank. Keeping the temps up is paramount. The Sangiovese was a treat but like some chicks they need help when they reach mid twenties then they need the Doctor for a lift. I think the Sangiovese as good as it is today will need help. Not to worry the Doctor has wonderful Cab, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Petite Verdot for a needed augmentation . We shall see. The Petite Sirah has enough tannin for an Army. Well at the end of the day Dave, 2 and 1/2 tons were put to bed today.

  55. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 30, 2013

    By the Way Dave, at your suggestion I read the Winepress.Us Post entitled Fermaid K: Worth the Cost?” Let me recover from today and recharge while I consider how to rip a few new assholes on the crap of this post on Hey Gregorio have you lost your tongue?

  56. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 30, 2013

    Gene, what temp do you recommend for the MLF?

  57. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 30, 2013

    I like 72 to 75 in the tanks in the Cellar to Complete the MLF

  58. Anatoli permalink
    September 30, 2013

    it sounds like we have the same smell on Malbec. it stays the same after MLF, I hope it to go after few splash rackings, as when I swirl wine in a glass the smell goes away. you don’t think it is bad, do you?
    My wineclub buddies said that they never smelled Chilean Malbec like that.
    Chilean Cab Franc from the same shipment is fine.

  59. Proud Puppy permalink
    September 30, 2013

    Don’t know why, but even with the best nutrients and an otherwise unstressed ferment it was always the one to misbehave. It is a different animal than Argentine Malbec, being a bit more earthy. Unless the neighbors were screaming it probably was a mild case of it and after all is aged, and barreled and bottled it becomes part of the eartyhyness and is not even detectable.
    You may notice a little of the heavy aroma if it is not allowed any time to breathe and the first swirl is immediately after uncorking. It doesn’t really linger, and never seemed to go the mercaptan or disulfide route, and always stayed as a quickly volatile gas if it ever stuck around that long. It never changed the taste.

    Also the few other people from whom I sampled, very similar aromas as well. Best you can do is try to keep it at a minimum. It almost always shows up in the last 1/3 to 1/2 of the ferment.

  60. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 30, 2013

    Well Anatoli we share the same problem. My experience with a gassy ferment like this is it goes away in about 6 months in a barrel sometimes sooner. That’s my “Hope Line” Puppy on the other hand is not so hopeful. But I do take comfort in hearing Puppy say it doesn’t follow the sulfide route. Not that we can’t deal with that but the end result for the wine is diminished ( for dave as our Primitivo) . SO we splash like fools and rack immediately and wait and taste and wait and test etc.

    One thing is for sure with me. NEVER will I make Chilean Grapes again. It just ain’t worth it. Hope you read this Senor Battista.

  61. Dan Lodico permalink
    September 30, 2013

    Don’t know if this is related, but the worst red wine I ever made was Chilean. I had Cab and Malbec, and due to volume logistics, I made a carboy of each and one of a blend.

    In my case it was the Cab, which then messed up the blend. The Malbec is not bad. I was determined to not bother ever again, partly due to the fact that Spring and Summer are not good times for me to futzing around with all of this.

    When Gene said the club was ordering in Spring, and freezing until Fall, I said OK…and the opportunity to have Gene and the club make it was more than I could pass up. It will be interesting for me if the smell you speak of is the same as what I have in my Chilean Cab.

    Maybe I’ll bring a bottle of each (Cab, Malbec and Blend) when I come up this weekend and get your input. I haven’t tried it lately ( I think I made it in 2010), and it seems to change all the time.
    YOu won’t like it, but you can help me diagnose it.

  62. Anatoli permalink
    September 30, 2013

    Thank you guys for the replies and reassurance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed it gets better. I was really worried for some time.

  63. Anatoli permalink
    September 30, 2013

    If you get to meet and discuss Dan’s wine, could you please share your thoughts?

  64. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 30, 2013

    We will all be together this Saturday or Sunday and we will taste Dan’s and report back here.

  65. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    September 30, 2013

    I was going to write a Blog piece on the nutrient issues recently related to on Then I thought it would not be worth the effort. Except to remind you, if you need reminding when GURU Northern Wee Wee the Man that Banned everyone for even mentioning a supplier of products in a negative way does a pretty good job himself of doing exactly that. So what is the jist of this Premier Amateur Winemaker? To tell others he now doubts the products has spent the last 7 years if not promoting but supporting and admonishing anyone who who poo pood them. This not new but is the height of hypocrisy for Wee Wee. But even more illuminating is the culture of the Winepress administration staff where sticking together and circling the wagons is more important than speaking the truth. Yes the New Grand Poo Bah Gregorio. The one that uses Scott Labs almost exclusively says nothing when his favorite supply house is called into question for selling snake oil. The same Gregorio who spends no time asserting his intelligence when a Guy like Tomer shows him a challenge to his enologistic supremacy. Now it is perfectly acceptable to claim Go ferm is a waste of time. What happened to all that Yeast Cell Wall building Gregorio touted Go Ferm was essential in eliminating all traces of residual sugar thereby eliminating post fermentation bacterial and Brett Issues? A non issue now since Northern Wee Wee has buyers remorse. What bullshit.

  66. Dave O'Brien permalink
    September 30, 2013

    Glad I was able to help with your writers block by giving you some material to review and comment on… The thread in question was intersting with most people disagreeing with the original poster. I also found BZAC’s comments at the end to be most interesting and drew only minor disagreement. Tough to argue with knowledge and fatcs as presented to an otherwise baseless opinion. All that said, as a newbe I can see how that paticular type of opinion can lead you down many paths of trial and error.

  67. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 1, 2013

    I just wish Gene wouldn’t be so shy about expressing his opinion.

  68. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 1, 2013

    I just read the whole thread on WP regarding the value of using Fermaid-K vs something else, and it did remind me of something that I noticed while preparing for this year’s winemaking.

    there is a blog-piece on here somewhere discussing the use of Fermaid-O, K, and DAP, and it starts with the assumption that you don’t know your YAN, and further assumes that since you don’t know it, you might assume a value of 150, with a goal of 300.

    Gene offered a couple of different formulas for getting there, with different amounts of O, K, and DAP, but it seemed to me they all EXCEEDED the recommended dose from the manufacturer.

    Which leads to a pretty good question someone asked on the WP thread, which never got answered; Would you rather undershoot the mark and risk stinkies, or overshoot and risk Bret?

    I had never seen the advice Zac gave about hydrating in HOT water and using a blender.

  69. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 1, 2013

    The K and O recommendations are controlled by the amount of thiamine allowed by the BBT . There is hardly any scientific evidence exceeding that is dangerous. It is just a number they picked out of the sky as governments often do. Dap is not a problem with thiamine but it has its own set of potential problems. With regard to your question. While simply put it is misleading in its assumption. With less nutrient you do run all kinds of risks some far greater than stinkies. If you ever have a stuck fermentation at 2 brix and you have to try to get it going again you will never undershoot again. Period. But even with stinkies you have to resort to fixes that in most cases changes the quality of the wine for the worse. As far as overshooting there is no definitive amount that will give you Brett. In fact in years past we used copious amounts of DAP and only on a rare occasion we got a light “leather” in 3 – 4 year old barrels. As the barrels got older the Leather increased. But then one could ask the question was this a function of DAP or some residual sugar never fermented because one didn’t use GO Ferm to build cells walls for the yeast to complete the job in a high alcohol environment. Oh but now Go Ferm is snake oil I forgot.

    The real story here is all winemakers struggle with the nutrient question. And while some of us who are anal go to great lengths to deal with it, the truth is many commercial wineries have DAP delivered by the truck load.

  70. Zac Brown permalink
    October 1, 2013

    I’ve kinda withdrawn from most of the online wine stuff lately , but was bored and I hadn’t read wp for weeks so I stopped by.

    I saw that thread and thought I’d offer my two cents worth.

    I like the results of using fermaid and go ferm and I’ve been to a couple lallmand seminars on the subject of nutrition where I could directly question the PhDs on the products and the research . I’ve read everything I could get my hands on too.
    I’ve a science back ground and the lallmand research is well done .

    All that plus my experience using the products has convinced me that my wines are better when using it .

    Compared to using plain dap I also find my wines are more fruit forward , happier yeast produce cleaner ferments with less potentially flavour effecting byproducts , lallmand has some research that backs this up.

    Now with real problem musts that have very low yan levels , fermaid may not have enough nitrogen , which is why I have some dap on hand as an emergency intervention .
    This is a primary reason why I never use a refractometer in my winemaking .

    I take a hydrometer reading , pull the hydrometer out of the tube , place my hand over the tube and shake it up like mad then smell , I’m looking for any signs of h2s when I do my daily brix checks durring ferment . If I find any before the 50% dry mark I will supplement my previous fermaid additions with some dap .
    If I find it after 50% dry , I’ll add some SIY . Previously I used a mix of optired and goferm . But nobless would work too. I want to keep nitrogen out but try to give the yeast some support .I might also do a rack and return at that point to get some air in it .

    Fermaid o doesn’t have any thiamine in it so you could add a larger amount but if you need more nitrogen , dap is a good intervention . Kinda like an adrenaline shot to a heart attack case.

    Knowing your grapes is important , very ripe or under ripe grapes both tend to have low natural nitrogen

    The lowest yan grapes I have worked with were brehms napa Caldwell cab sauv (28 brix) and niagra on the lake reds with low brix
    I used fermaid k and a small amount of dap.

    I use Washington grapes mostly these days which tend to have more moderate brix , decent ph and TA levels , I’ve found standard fermaid additions work fine .

    If someone asked me , what should I use for nutrient , I would say fermaid k without hesitation.

    I wouldn’t recommend generic , but if it’s all you got or all you can find . It’s better than not useing any nutrient.

    In a high risk must , ie the time I made Chilean Malbec (m&ms first year they sold it) where there was some kind of sulfur used in packing , supplemental products can really help.
    Optired/white , booster rouge/ blanc can help ward off h2s too.

    Cost? Well in my wines it works out to a penny a bottle for fermaid and a penny for go ferm .

    I think my wine is worth it.

    Is yours?

  71. Zac Brown permalink
    October 1, 2013

    Oh and select a yeast with low h2s production .

    Montrachet , d47 for example should be avoided if you have h2s concerns .

  72. Zac Brown permalink
    October 1, 2013

    On the numbers thing , just because you have a yan level of 300 , doesn’t mean you are guaranteed no h2s .

    And since organic nitrogen is more readily used by yeast , it’s possible to have a heathy ferment with 150 yan organic and the pail next to it with 300 yan boosted with dap and get h2s .

    So it’s not just about numbers , they are a guideline .

    I think fermaid k with its mix of organic and inorganic plus micronutrients and yeast hulls is a good compromise in 99% of situations .

    All that said , sometimes you can do everything right and still get h2s . That’s winemaking .
    A late spray in the vineyard in a rainy year and it all gets harder.

    But being smart and doing all you can to keep the yeast happy is the core of modern winemaking .

  73. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 1, 2013

    Well that about wraps up the Nutrient Issue. Case Closed . Thanks Zac ! We all have to feel our way.

  74. crazy run ranch permalink
    October 1, 2013

    I have mentioned a few times that I used to have YAN testing done and stopped when I found it wasn’t a very good indicator of problems to come. That’s the thing, nothing replaces smelling, tasting, and taking care of the ferment as Zac points out. I feel that Fermaid K/O/GoFerm have no downsides to use. Not used Superfood but know people who like it. DAP on the other hand, seems to either fix a little H2S or make it worse. If you are at the peak of fermentation, smell a little H2S, and hit it with DAP, it can turn things into a runaway train finishing fermentation a day later. With or without an H2S problem. At that stage, I add more punch downs and more aeration and it usually fixes the problem with low risk of creating another. So I think this example illustrates Zac’s points above. There is no magic bullet or do-all fix.

  75. Anatoli permalink
    October 1, 2013

    I would like to know, please, what is the DAP dose you add to must once you smell H2S first half of fermentation? and if I go aeration route, do rack and return or just more punch downs? Thing is, I can’t be around the ferementor all the time…

    And the second question about Lanza Petit Syrah, since of your prior experience with these grapes. How long on the skins should I keep the wine, not to over extract? Press at dryness or at low Brix. I’m making some blending PS for the next year Zin.


  76. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 1, 2013

    To address your second question. If you are trying to make a substantial Zinfandel you will want to boost tannins significantly with the Addition of Petite Sirah. In that regard you should press below zero. But in any case I do not agree with pressing at a low brix. To me the grapes are what they are and to press early can lead to residual sugar issues and if you are afraid of Balls you should have made Gamay instead. But for Blending what is the worry? Press at minus 1 is my advice.

    We leave your first question to your experience other than to say a normal dose of DAP per gallon or half that amount.

  77. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 2, 2013

    Zero or below is what these grapes are all about. Some like to only blend with them and Gene gave you the reason on that fully dry pressing. I love as a single varietal along with a little blending use, so I tend to get between 0 and a little lower, and then if I need to wait a day or so, no problem. Usually ok to press a little above zero, as a way to get a little less extraction, but there is not really a huge difference, and yeah there can be risk of stuck ferments, especially if you start with the 26 Brix or above that they often come in at.(Not ameliorating) Just press a little lighter and there is plenty of fruit forward character . No matter when you really press the must…these grapes yield a beautiful fruity tannic beast… Love em!!!

  78. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 2, 2013

    Another option Is what I do.. whole berry ferments. there is always a little sequestered fermenting going on and every punch down, the SG or Brix climbs a little from the released unfermented sugar in the semi intact berries. So even if the reading is 0 or below, after pressing it rises maybe a half brix or so ontil a few punches after going below 0. the result is more fruit forward profile, and less harsh extraction,if that is what you are looking for. Ido this with about 1/2 the dose of enzymes added as the cold soak finishes and the temp is around 60 or above to give it about 2 days to work prior to pitching. Still, not a soupy mess at pressing with a lower enzyme dose.

  79. Jim Wallace permalink
    October 2, 2013

    Gene .. regarding gassy on the Malbec
    I did the same grapes in the spring and got a bit of off note aroma very late at pressing.
    This pretty much dissipated after the first racking.
    It has been in barrel since June and no signs of it now. The next barrel racking in about a month or so should give me a better idea.

    A bit late on reply here because I am off doing cheese making research in Italy the past month and not visiting the blog. Took a bit of time off the past week visiting some great wine makers in Barolo and also Valtallina where the harvest is in full swing. I have been drinking some pretty amazing stuff with some pretty amazing wine makers here.

    With the early harvest at home Nick suggested crushing and freezing the M/L Sangiovese which should be waiting for me when I return on Friday.

  80. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 2, 2013

    Well that is good to hear. I hope it works out for us as well. Sounds like you had a terrific time in Italy. I am sure we would love to hear what you learned from the winemakers.

    Nick was more that right on a few counts. Telling you to freeze it and picking Sangiovese in the first place. The Lanza Musto Sangiovese as far as I am concerned is so far the grape of the season. I have made it every year from the first harvest of this vineyard. This year it is outstanding. Truly. I related this to Ron Lanza and he thought the same thing. First the numbers are very respectable, the growing season was perfect , the vines have come into maturity and Ron shared they did some serious cropping. I think you are going to be very happy with these grapes.

  81. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 2, 2013

    Whew! another big day in the winery. A half ton of Lanza Gamay arrived and looked impeccable. You just get so accustomed to this quality in presentation and packing you forget the past. For some of the new guys who never picked the leaves out of a Colavita or Papagini Box of grapes can even appreciate it. But today some of them got their first taste. We received in addition a half ton of the Stage Coach Atlas Peak Napa Merlot. Very nice grapes, not cheap and packed by Berton of Delta to Lanza Standards. Let’s face it Lanza sets the standard for delivery and packing.

    Then a FIRST, the Lake County Cabernet. For that matter a first for Lake County Grapes on the East Coast. We take a ton. We are excited. I have urged Frank Musto for the past 2 years to obtain grapes from this AVA. He does! and dare I say none other than Beckstoffer to boot.
    Ok so what do you want to know. Well first no boxes, only 1/2 ton bins. God only knows what will be on the bottom of those bins after traveling cross country. At least it is Cab not Zinfandel. And on this point these are high elevation grapes with thick skins. As a result the grapes at the bottom of the bin were not crushed or damaged just a gallon or so of juice. As far as the picking. Berton, could these Packing Guys leave the wood on the vine behind? And while they are at it could they not send the leaves. In a word not the cleanest picking and packing. Then again we are not accustomed to 1/2 ton bins. Maybe this is the expectation we should not have. So how did the grapes arrive in general. These are very nice grapes and will make a nice wine but the Ph is high and unfortunately the TA is high as well. No room to adjust now we will see after AF.

    In any case we thank M&M Grape and Frank Musto for all his efforts to provide us with the many opportunities he has give the Hobby of Amateur Winemaking

  82. Gaetano permalink
    October 3, 2013

    I’ve been following the blog for a while, I really appreciate the straight forward answers and reviews.
    I’ve learned a bit from the posts I’ve read. Thanks for sharing your experiences with various grapes, vendors, and additives, this info helps people like me to make educated decisons.

    I’m very happy to hear that the Lanza Musto Sangiovese are great this year, I’m awaiting delivery, hopefully early next week.

    Thanks again.


  83. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 3, 2013

    Numbers on the Sangiovese 48 hours after racking off the gross lees:

    Brix: -1.4

    pH: 3.84

    the pH is up from 3.68 pre-ferment.

    does that raise any eyebrows?

  84. Gaetano permalink
    October 3, 2013

    How much time do you recommend that I wait between adding Lallzyme EX & Opti-Red at crush, and pitching the yeast?
    I don’t have the means to cold soak.
    I’ve been reading Genes posts about adding K-meta at crush to knock down the wild yeast, I read that at one point you didn’t feel that it was necessary, but if I’m not mistaken, you have started to add meta at crush again, (forgive me if I am wrong) what changed your mind about adding it?
    Thanks in advance,


  85. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 3, 2013

    Welcome Gaetano Use the same name and email address and you will not need moderation to post a comment in the future.

    First @ Dan My eyebrows are not raised especially if you cofermented ML.

    Ok Gaetano got me! First to answer your question. I spray with a small garden sprayer enzyme as they enter the crusher. I add Opti Red immediately after crush and Fermaid O. You don’t want to wait to add the enzyme you want it to work as fast as possible. Since you are not cold soaking the time between the crush and a cap can be 48 hours. Consider that your cold soak especially if your grapes are cold. Our vat after Crushing yesterday was 55. You can see it will take time for that to get to 68 when some action takes place. I build my yeast culture immediately at the crush and culture it for 12 hours return the bucket to the vat to lower the temp in the culture to the vat temperature. After 12 hours I tip the bucket in the vat and wait for the end of lag phase and a cap to form.

    Now to how you got me. You are correct I did say I would start using K meta at the crush again. The reason was Zac made a convincing argument. And I have added it this season to 2 vats because wild yeast was already doing its thing. So I knocked it down. I was also going to add it to other vats but decided not to because I wanted to test the difference of an early co fermentation with ML bacteria. My thinking is no need for K meta in the equation. So you get an A for reading.

    With regard to my Accuvin Test. Things did not work out. The test after crushing looked like there was more Malic then at the Crush and it only took 30 seconds to develop. So the test may be flawed or the Co fermentation did not reduce Malic significantly in the 7 day ferment. As we go forward I will keep a time line on these wines to see if we complete early than we are accustomed to. But at this time there is no evidence I accomplished anything to reduce MLF time frames.

  86. Gaetano permalink
    October 3, 2013

    Thanks for the quick reply! I’ve been following most every post for the past year, extremely informative.
    I really enjoy reading Zacs posts as well, you folks are on a whole different level of wine making.
    I never thought about using a spray bottle to spray the grapes as they enter the crusher, great idea.
    As far as crushing, what is your feeling on crush size? I’ve heard a few people say that leaving a high percentage of the grapes whole will produce a wine that is more “fruit forward”, I question this due to the use of the enzymes and products such as Opti-Red that are designed to break down and help extract faster and more efficiently.
    Interesting test, I’ve never co fermented, but then again, I’ve had a MLF take 6 weeks, I usually don’t worry too much about MLF, the wine is going to age at least a year, most times 2 yrs, I’m in no rush, but again, I’m making very small quantities compared to you.
    I cannot wait until Vinmetrica releases their malic acid test kit, 30 mins to get a reading, and none of that nasty smelling solvent.
    Sorry for bombarding you with questions, it’s nice to be able to get answers from folks with experience.


  87. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 3, 2013

    You are welcome, we can be bombastic at times but we are focused, there is no question about that. Zac is a Master his contributions stand on their own. I have encouraged him to start a blog of his own, but nevertheless we are very happy he posts here.

    I have seen high end crushers with spray wands in place. I assumed they were for enzymes. But many years ago when purchasing Rapidase Ex Color the factory representative suggested I spray the grapes. And this is what we do.

    Now crush size has a lot to do with your crusher/destemmer. Our old crusher the kind that sits on top of the vat had the rollers spaced far apart, so with small berry size the majority passed whole. Cab and Merlot and Pinot Noir were the ones that passed the most. Out new floor destemmer has no crusher rollers at all so you could assume we are getting more whole berries. Sadly not, because the Paddle Wheel Must Pump of the Destemmer does a good job of breaking the berrie. So on the small berry size grapes we are getting about 40% whole berries as opposed to 60-70% with the old destemmer. We are doing volume and there are compromises with all endeavors. The results of the change is up in the air. One thing is for sure fermentation time is reduced with less wh0le berries.

  88. Rocco permalink
    October 4, 2013

    Hey Gene,We crushed a ton of the Lake County red hill ava. Cab yesterday.Our numbers were right on this morning.24.5brixs,3.53PH,.7TA.Different packing indeed.Could you tell me more about your smells of this ava.If you noticed any difference.I know you crushed the BS.Thanks,Rocco.We are really spoiled thanks to Frank and CO.By the way again the Lanza fruit was number 1.

  89. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 4, 2013

    Good nose Rocco. the native yeast was already working on these grapes. We dosed with Meta and await our culture to take over but there is no mistaking some Nail Polish in the vat after crushing. Our numbers were not good either our PH was 4.0 and the TA was high. We decided to wait until after AF before we attempt any adjusting. Yeast hulls to the rescue.

  90. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 4, 2013

    why and how are yeast hulls used?

  91. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 4, 2013

    I think of them as little sponges absorbing poisons produced by yeasts and other organisms during fermentation. They can be considered a nutrient but they contain no nitrogen. I like to use them not only at the beginning but at the end of fermentation as well when the yeasts are stressed. For a scientific explanation read page 36 of the Scott Lab Fermentation Handbook.

  92. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 4, 2013

    Do you use them routinely, or only to treat issues?

  93. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 4, 2013

    As of 2009 they became a normal routine in my nutrient protocol. No downside anywhere in sight why not? Oh yeah I forgot Northern Wee Wee is a cheapskate. As far as the nail polish at crushing I doubled down on my scrub and bubbles. Nice to report today the wonderful aroma of Lake County and Napa Fruit has returned to the winery. Whew!!! I kinda figured it but who needs the drama. Packing was responsible for this. AND

    ROCCO did you have to take a pruning shears to some of the clusters where there was enough wood to build an addition to your house and totally fuck up your chrusher? We did. Who the fuck harvested these grapes?

    Sorry for the language Martini’s at work

  94. Rocco permalink
    October 5, 2013

    Its always a good laugh around here.Had to get through the bag of leaves first.

  95. Gaetano permalink
    October 5, 2013

    “did you have to take a pruning shears to some of the clusters where there was enough wood to build an addition to your house and totally fuck up your crusher? ”


    Great info on the yeast hulls, this will help to keep things in check during fermentation. Do you stick to the 2 lb/1000 gal recommendation, or have you had better results using different quantities?
    I’m making a much smaller amount, so the cost is a non issue.

    Gene, you use the yeast hulls at the end of fermentation, is there a specific Brix that you add them at, or does it depend on the must, meaning, how it looks, smells and so forth?

    I’m a bit concerned about the length of time that the grapes have been sitting in the cooler at M&M, life got in the way and I ordered late, I should be getting the Lanza Sangiovese early next week, everything that I’ve heard about the Lanza Sangiovese has been amazing this season. I’m sure that it will be fine, I’ve never received anything less than great product from M&M.

    I’m almost more concerned about this seasons wine, this is the first season that my son has taken an active interest in joining in on wine making carrying on the family tradition.

    Is anyone going to be going to M&M this weekend to meet Ron Lanza, I assume that most of you have met him already, I’m going to try to make it there, not to far of a drive.

    Thanks again,


  96. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 5, 2013

    Yes we have had dinner with Ron many times and he was a gracious host on our trip to Napa last year. You can read about the entire trip on the blog click right under the search box.
    We won’t be making it up to Hartford so say hello for me.

    With regard to dosages of products I usually stay on the low to middle range. With these last grapes I went high. So smell and original condition of the grapes are factors. I have used them at the end of fermentation as well I like them around 10 -8 brix.

    I think your grapes will be fine so I would not worry. M&M has the best refrigeration in the business.

  97. October 5, 2013

    I saw that the Lake County fruit was going to be coming in 1/2 ton bins and thought there might be some crushing on the bottom. Glad to hear it wasn’t too bad, but I can’t imagine why they would think this would work. Or maybe they thought people would accept it?

  98. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 5, 2013

    Well there are a few reasons for 1/2 ton bins. First there are issues getting crews to pick and box in many places in Wine Country. This for the most part limits our availability to get grapes from different areas we are accustomed to getting. 1/2 ton bins are an industry standard for wineries this is not something new at all. For the Amateur you can handle this if you are already making 28 boxes.

  99. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 5, 2013

    I would like to comment more about these but right now we have a ton of grapes to press out

  100. October 5, 2013

    I’ve seen the 1/2 ton bins and it wouldn’t really matter for the few hours if the winery was right there, but coming all the way across the country just sounded like a recipe for disaster. Glad to hear it wasn’t too bad. I guess the only solution is to move to the west coast to get more selection (although I think we get a very decent selection now).

  101. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 5, 2013

    As I said Dave this is not a new occurrence for grapes delivered to wineries on the East Coast and this hardly was a disaster as far as the bins are concerned. However there are a few considerations one has to make in deciding to accept a 1/2 ton bin. Probably the first is availability of a certain grape from a particular AVA. There may be no other choice. Second and more important to me is the varietal one is expecting to receive. A Zinfandel grape or other thin skin varietal probably can’t hold up to the weight of the grapes for a 5 day trip in a truck across country. Cabernet? no problem. These came in perfect condition and at the bottom of the bin there was just a gallon of juice that could have been created by us as we grabbed the grapes and put them in buckets. The real downside I believe is the cooling after picking. Lanza for example field packs which means the boxes are packed in the field handled once and soon after brought to a cooling facility where the temperature is brought down quickly and dramatically. The boxes being what they are have holes in the sides and there is air space all around on the pallet. The cooling has to be more effective and the temperatures attained lower than trying to cool down a 5 foot square box which is 3 feet high and sealed with a plastic sheet. Cooling the grapes in the middle of the pile cannot be as effective as boxes of grapes. This I believe is the downside of bins. Proving this point the Bin Grapes were 10 degrees warmer after crushing than the Boxed Grape.

    The other issue with packing is not whether it is boxes or bins but if the grapes are House Packed. In this case the grapes are handled twice before they are shipped. In this case box or bin doesn’t make a lot of difference. For the Amateur wanting the least problems a Lanza packed box of grapes is the Gold Standard in shipped grapes. The entire process is designed for shipping. For those of us who want to venture out to other areas of Wine Country we have to accept the reality of what other Wine Grape Packers provide to us and what market realities exist. Having said that, there is no excuse for rocks going in your crusher whether it is a 1000 dollar model or I am sure a commercial winery with a 80,000 dollar model would not accept it either. Shitty careless picking has nothing to do with bins or boxes.

  102. October 5, 2013

    Thanks, that adds a lot more information than my original snap judgment. Appreciate the thoughtful reply.

  103. Crazy Run Ranch permalink
    October 6, 2013

    Rocks are there for minereality! LOL. Glad I don’t have to deal with packaging, differnent picking crews are bad enough. We find that crews paid by the ton are much more careless than those paid by the hour. I’ve had some beautiful fruit this year come in with a huge amount of leaves. The guys are flying through the vineyards to try and make a buck. My own crew gets paid by the hour and I tell them I don’t want to see any MOG in the bins. My fruit is squeaky clean and it costs me maybe $40 extra per ton since they go a little slower. As I shovel fruit into the destemmer, it’s easy to see the difference.
    Gene, can you bypass the must pump/berry squasher? I removed the mechanism completely and raised it up to put fermenters underneath. Those nozzles on mega bucks machines are for cleaning, some clean themselves after use, pretty cool.

  104. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 6, 2013

    Just what we need minerality How does a rock defy gravity and get in a bin. I just don’t understand the aeronautical science behind this type of phenomena. You can’t bypass the must pump and the bottom of the crusher is solid, no where for the grapes to escape. If we want to whole berry crush we have access to the old style crusher that goes on top of the vats. Clean themselves? Don’t let my guys read that.

  105. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 6, 2013

    Gene, I had a great time “helping” with the press yesterday. What a great group of guys. Especially enjoy the wine tasting afterwards.
    I wish I had a camera on you when you took that first smell of my 2010 Cab/Malbec…

  106. Dave O'Brien permalink
    October 6, 2013

    A crusher that cleans itself. Might need to add it into the budget since we are being forced to eat store bought food these days….

  107. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 6, 2013

    @ Dan LOL well I am not a good poker player as you might guess. And the look of surprise was exactly that. But since you brought this up I have to say I have no idea , knowing your skills, how you ended up with wine like that. I find it perplexing. Frankly it scares me. What caused this? This question plagues me. AND I have only one answer and that is the grapes you received were spoiled. Which brings me to my pet peave, Leave Chilean Grapes in Chile Thank you very much.

    @ Dave For those who might not truly appreciate or comprehend Dave’s comment let me explain. For as far back as I can remember I have cooked lunch for our work days. All kinds of Italian Dishes to please the crew. This year with me arriving late in New York and the compactness of all the grapes coming at the same time I have not been in the kitchen and have resorted to caterers so to speak. But the Fellows miss the specialites I suppose. I have promised to cook for the up coming weekend where we have 2 tons to press out. I guess I will not be needed in the Winery and have been relegated to the Kitchen.

  108. Dave O'Brien permalink
    October 6, 2013

    Now that we solved the food probem. Let’s get back to the crusher that cleans itself!!!

    On another note, the Malbec was stirred today and the off odor we experienced last week is all but gone. Very slight if at all. Since it may be the last time we dabble in Chilean grapes I am hopeful to have a successful experience.

  109. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 7, 2013

    Having had in a former life with 24 suits and 8 Sport Coats , 60 dress shirts and 200 ties I am very accustomed to the ‘Tie and Suit Mentality”. However the Politically Correct language of people who find themselves in that situation is universal. They typically use adjectives which soft peddle every fucking thing they encounter in their existence. For example, “it may be the last time we dabble in Chilean Grapes”. Dabble???? How do you call a ton of grapes dabbling???? I certainly hope Dave has a successful experience while I freekin Dabble. JEEZZ Love you Dave!!! No Stuffed Peppers for you. What I am trying to figure out is what is worse Chilean Grapes or Rocks from Lake County in my Crusher. Maybe we don’t dabble in Lake County anymore. Your thoughts…….

  110. Gaetano permalink
    October 7, 2013

    Gene, you cook as well? A man of many trades. Your pressing parties sound like a lot of fun! I’d like to hear more about your set up, you guys really have your sh*t together.

  111. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 7, 2013

    Oh yeah Gaetano, look back at posts from last October, toward the end of the month or even early November 2012. There should be a ton of pictures (of the tons of grapes) and some of the equipment. Quite an impressive setup for sure!

  112. Gaetano permalink
    October 7, 2013

    Proud Puppy,
    No Lie!!!! When I saw the “Prep Day” post I nearly shat meself!…LOL
    That is impressive to say the least, if I didn’t feel like I had sooo much to learn, I do now…LMAO!!
    Seriously, I’m very impressed! I don’t mean to pry…ah who am I kidding, I mean to pry…ha ha, The equipment was all a club buy? This in itself is just flat out amazing, I’ve been a part of clubs within various hobbies that couldn’t agree on a meeting day.
    You guys are definitely a step above, the amount of advice and knowledge that you guys share is unreal, I like the fact that you seem to test products and give honest, no BS feedback.

  113. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 7, 2013

    The development of the Micro Winery on Kimball ( you can search out those past posts ) was born out of me getting old. The plan was to make wine making easy as possible and emulate a small commercial winery. This helps not only me but the guys who make wine with me. These guys are either relatives or close friends. However every year it seems a member recommends a new person to join us. The younger and stronger they are the better. That said guys can make as little as 5 gallons or up to the legal limit. That is their decision. We try to make varietals the guys want and the expectation is everyone will help even on days when that person might not be making wine for himself. That is about the only rule we have except for arriving on time. Since many of the guys have young families I try to crush mid week with a skeleton crew and take only one day on a weekend for a pressing. Some weekends are skipped entirely. The level these guys want to learn about the nuances of winemaking is left up to them. Some do take it very seriously others are happy to make good wine and leave the decision making to others. My job as any good manager is to work myself out of a job and to that end there are a couple of guys that are ready to fly solo. Then I can stay in Florida and have wine shipped down after MLF LOL!

    As to the level of advice you can get here. Understand some of the winemakers who post here represent the highest levels in the hobby and it is my pleasure to have them here.

  114. Anatoli permalink
    October 7, 2013

    Gene, what is recommendation for Petit Syrah? use enzymes, oak and tannins or just leave it alone and have a good heat spike? Is 4×4 a good yeast selection for it?

    I tasted some of the “gassy” Malbec from the barrel, it seems to have less of the unpleasant aroma, comparing to not oaked one. That is after 3 weeks.

  115. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 7, 2013

    I use enzymes all the time. With the Lanza Petite Sirah you could end up with more tannin then you care for if your goal is a single varietal bottle. As a blender for Zinfandel heavy tannins will work in your favor. Even if you wind up with a lot of tannin a good stay in a barrel will mellow it. A couple of things a good heat spike and fermentation tannin will help lock and stabilize the color. I am not a fan of BM 4×4, not that it is trouble it is just I can’t get a grip on the fermentation temps and kinetics. This is probably because I don’t use it enough. I only use it for Sangiovese ferments. For Petite Sirah I would use Rockpile. I like Rockpile a lot. I might try D80 too.

    Dan wrote me this morning really worried about the Malbec. I think patience is in order for this wine. All indications so far is the wine seems to be getting better. Mine was racked once into carboys then after 48 hours transferred to a small tank. I will give it a try in a few days to see what I have.

  116. Gaetano permalink
    October 8, 2013

    Looking to be the foreman…lol! It sounds like you deserve it! I am impressed with the setup, you have a mini commercial winery….damn am I jealous!!!!
    “some of the winemakers who post here represent the highest levels in the hobby – ” I will agree with you, I’ve been on a few wine making forums, and I hate to say it, but I’m growing tired of kit winemakers (no disrespect to any kit winemakers, I’ve made a few myself just to see what it was all about) telling newbies to add raisins to their must because it will start a secondary fermentation, and that MLF (yes, the dreaded monster…MLF) has no place in a home winemakers tool box…. not everyone is like that, but the piles of bad info that spews from their keyboards is overwhelming.
    I’m no expert, but I am educated enough to know when I’m not experienced enough in a particular technique or with a particular product to comment.
    Anyway, sorry for the rant, you guys are a refreshing change from that kind of nonsense.


  117. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 8, 2013

    Loving Rants Dude Me being the Rant King of sorts, I will comment further in the AM, as a few martinis at dinner and 2 bottles of 2011 “lake County Cab Sav was the wine of the evening. I ordered it because I am so curious was what to expect with our Beckstoffer grapes from Lake County. I will say this based on our methods and barreling we will have a superior wine. But to address the terrior of these grapes there is more of an elegant bordeaux than a fruit bomb napa in the genes. truth be told I favor Rutherford. so spoiled damm……….

  118. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 8, 2013

    Yeah spoiled indeed! I Bottled the Bkstf Carneros 2 wks ago and seriously this is 1 hell of a MF come from behind winner take all vintage. About 85/15 blend with Bkstf Missouri Hpr and OMG!! I am in awe! I picked up the Atlas PK Merlot today and the flavor is off the wall! Had an acidic pH but I guess this is how the mountain grown fruit comes in.

    Numbers on your APM?
    Focused beam of flavor intensity similar to the Carneros BKSTF Merlot.

    Gotta get a handle on the higher elevation characteristics and profile before I feel comfortable. Totally new and unexplored territory for me. Feel free to share your ferment Gene, Please !!!

  119. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 8, 2013

    Being asked to comment on the Atlas Peak Fruit I feel a responsibility. LOL I am dealing with not only with the Atlas Peak Merlot but also the Bekof Cabernet Sauvignon. It is worth mentioning dealing with new fruit is always a new experience for winemakers Amateur or Commercial. Can you accuse us for resting on our laurels? I suppose you can. After all for the past 5 years we have become very experienced using Lanza/Musto Fruit and since 2009 we have come to expect the same experience year to year with the Beckstoffer Napa Fruit. However 2013 is different. Atlas Peak Merlot. Ok let’s did in to the vault. Looney Mackensie close to Atlas Peak in 2008 and 2009 Beautiful grapes , Color off the Charts , big tannin, slightly under ripe great PH and Acid. So how does the Atlas Peak Merlot measure up at twice the price? Great Color, some off odor at crush, developing nicely as we approach 5 brix. Numbers at crush Ta 3.61 PH 3.61 brix 26. Fermented as is, no watering. I am liking it better the last few days then at the beginning. Let me be very clear about this. Nail polish aroma has happened to me only once after a 4 day cold soak with no So2.

    As far as the Lake County Cab. This is very interesting as of today. This wine is Black Cherry with Minerals on the nose. At first the Nail Polish was unmistakable but that is gone today and the Alcohol is predominate. The interesting thing is the difference from Rutherford Ferments. The grapes/ wine is different. Terrior it has to be.

    For those reading this let me make it perfectly clear. These are my impressions. If it is taken as a criticism of M&M, Delta Packing or the Grower that is the reader’s problem. I am only reacting to new fruit as a winemaker, there is no other agenda.

  120. Dan Lodico permalink
    October 9, 2013

    Gene, you wrote that the Atlas Peak TA was 3.61 ..

  121. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 9, 2013

    I did. Did I mess up? DUH Ta .75 sorry

  122. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 9, 2013

    Cold soaking now, BEAUTIFUL FRUIT focused beam of flavor, but lower pH than you got TA not yet done. 3.25 or so at berry crush, 24 hrs later 3.35 to 3.37 looks like it will stabilize at 3.4.
    No brix yet until just 1 or 2 days more soak. Color is good but a little light but still darkening.
    May do a field blend 5% to 8 % with the Lanza Petite Sirah to push cplor up and pH closer to 3.5 and also to use some Merlot in the Petite Sirah to bring the pH a little lowe

  123. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 9, 2013

    I think a 5 o

  124. Proud Puppy permalink
    October 9, 2013

    I think a 5 to 10 Lb exchange would benefit each. Doing a field blend as I want the yeast to be as happy as possible, and I think Merlot also has a bad enough time in MLF that it doesn’t need to deal with a 3.35 or 3.4 pH along with it.
    3.5 I think would set my worries to rest no problem.

  125. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    October 9, 2013

    I have never had the MLF Merlot Problem even the 09 Napa was 3.2 if I remember correctly.

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