Saturday, September 21, 2013

Miscellaneous: A Little Bit of Whimsy

In need of a mustache? Can't grow one? Never fear, free mustaches are here. I found this whimsical offering of complimentary mustaches recently at a local printing shop. I didn't avail myself of the kind offer because I already have a mustache of my own....

Rain: First Rain of the 2013-2014 Rainy Season (September 21, 2013)

It began to rain in Santa Rosa at about 1:00AM this morning (September 21) and drizzled through most of the night. There was hard rain then in the early light of day. Looking at the rain gauge after the rain stopped (around 11:00AM), I see that we got a respectable 0.6 inches in total. This is the first real rain of the 2013-2014 rainy season, which began on July 1, 2013 and will end on June 30 2014. I believe the rain will have come and gone quickly enough that the grapes won't be adversely affected. Harvest is probably still about 10 days away.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wines I'm Making: 2013 Sangiovese Berry Sample

 It's that time of year. I got out my pH meter and my refractometer today to look at the sugar and pH levels of the Sangiovese grapes in the back yard for the first time this season. I collected a sample of berries from each of the plants in the vineyard and crushed them. First the sugar level: The juice is at 20 Brix. I'm aiming for 22-23 Brix, so another week to ten days, perhaps. The pH is at 3.40, which is a bit higher than I would have expected at this stage. I'll test again in a few days. If the pH seems to be rising steadily without the sugars going up much, I may have to pick at a somewhat lower sugar level than is ideal. We'll see how things progress.

[Update: I took another Sangiovese berry sample today, September 29. The sugar is now at 21 Brix, so up a point from the sample I took ten days ago. The pH is higher, too, but not alarmingly so, at 3.45. pH squared times Brix is 249.9. I'd like to get one more degree of sugar, but can probably pick any time. Rain is in the forecast--which may have a bearing on things, depending on how much we get.

I also checked the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for the first time today, taking a similar berry sample. The sugar is already at 25 Brix--right where I want it--and the pH is at 3.42, which is a good level) pH squared times Brix is 292), but I suspect the sugar is where it is in large part because the number of raisins on the vines is greater than usual at this time of year. It's normal for some raisins to form before harvest, but I suspect my attempt to dry farm the grapes this year (I've watered them only once or twice the whole summer) may have something to do with it. Normally I water three to four times. Some of the seeds look quite mature, others are still somewhat green. It's beginning to sprinkle just as the sun is starting to go down. If we get a heavy rain tonight (September 29) or a prolonged rain begins to look likely, it may be best to pick very soon.]

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