Hurry up… and wait

Guess the clips weren't too well placed on these vines as the bird netting is off of this row.
Guess the clips weren’t too well placed on these vines as the bird netting is off of this row.

It was nice to have a couple of days to clean my house, visit with my husband and relax; I didn’t expect to have this opportunity while crush was still on.  Even the small winery I help at didn’t accept any grapes over the weekend.  Friday afternoon there was some talk of picking Carmenere grapes from the Stan Clarke Vineyard, but there was no email message to convey that this morning.  It seems our blustery, damp weather has halted the crazy early crush season and we are actually going to have to wait about a week for the return of the sun and warmer temperatures to finish ripening the red grapes still on the vines.

Merlot grapes to add to our sample for testing.
Merlot grapes to add to our sample for testing.

This afternoon our class went to the vineyard as a

Murky, pale color indicate not ripe enough to harvest these Merlot grapes.
Murky, pale color indicate not ripe enough to harvest these Merlot grapes.

group to pick berries for a sample to determine grape ripeness.  Our group, doing Merlot, had 18 rows, two sides per row, so really 36, to pick grapes over.  Our sample had to represent all rows and all stages of ripeness.  With six of us picking grapes you would think it would have been speedy – but we were one of the last groups to bring in our sample.  It was a cloudy, pale colored liquid while the seeds were yellow; clearly not yet ripe.

The seeds are still yellow and bright, not darkening to brown to indicate ripeness.
The seeds are still yellow and bright, not darkening to brown to indicate ripeness.
Group five of the 2015 WWCC E&V class: 2013 Merlot, 2013 Viognier and a yet to be determined 2014 white.
Group five of the 2015 WWCC E&V class: 2013 Merlot, 2013 Viognier and a yet to be determined 2014 white.

The same group is also doing Viognier.  We met to

Tasting Washington Viognier wines.
Tasting Washington Viognier wines.

begin hashing out the plans Sunday and today spent an hour tasting four local Viogniers to understand what the grape is really capable of.  With our lab results in-hand, we are aware that we need to amend the juice slightly with an addition of acid and we really need a particular yeast to encourage the aromas, mouth-feel and taste in a timely fashion due to our short timeline.  This all has to be together for our presentation tomorrow afternoon.

The Syrah juice and oak pieces four days after sitting in the cold cellar.
The Syrah juice and oak pieces four days after sitting in the cold cellar.

Taste a white wine and go to the cellar to inoculate a

Lots of bubbles and some small eruptions indicate the activity of the yeast with some added Syrah juice.
Lots of bubbles and some small eruptions indicate the activity of the yeast with some added Syrah juice.

red; it was time to begin fermenting the Syrah!  This is my other group, someday we will get a picture together.  Once the yeast begins to bloom, we add some of the grape juice to ‘feed’ it and drop the temperature, bit by bit, so it is closer to the temperature of the warmer-than-it-was-this-

Look at that fantastic color already!
Look at that fantastic color already!

morning juice.  Once the yeast and the juice are pretty close to the same temperature, the active yeast slurry is dumped into the juice.  We are on our way.  Clean up follows, each tube, whisk, thermometer, etc. has to be cleaned of the grapes skins and dried yeast clinging to them, sanitized and put away.  Then it is time to leave and scrounge some dinner before writing.

Despite the lack of grapes to pick and process at the moment, there is still lots to do in the cellar.  I am actually enjoying researching the various yeast strains, hope we are really ready with our plan in less than twenty-four hours!

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