Crush Report 2016.

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JohnT

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Well 2016 crush was last weekend and it is now just a memory.

For the last month or so, most of my spare time has been spent getting ready. All of the prep time paid off and this year’s crush went as smooth as silk.

On Thursday, the dumpster was delivered and people began arriving from out-of-state. I spent most of the day obsessing over the weather, but really enjoyed getting caught up with family that I have not seen for quite a while.SWMBO made her famous turkey meatloaf dinner and we all gathered to sip through some of the of the rarer vintages.

It had been raining for several days and my fear was that the ground will be too soft for a 22 foot box truck loaded with grapes. There was a year when the truck got stuck and it cost me a small fortune to get it pulled out to the street. So, at 4am Friday morning (who can sleep? It’s crush!) it came to me.I would leave the truck on the street and have my brother use his 4wd pickup to bring the sorted grapes around the building to the destemmer.I called the brother and, after the “do you have any idea what time it is” speech, got him to agree to bring his truck to crush.It was great to have one less worry!

Friday was all about the grapes and getting set up. We rented the truck, and went down to my local supplier.I really like this place!I was warmly greeted by the owner, Jimmy.It is funny how I am always greeted a little warmer on “grape day” that at other times of the year.Jimmy knows me too well.I have been dealing with him for well over 25 years and he can read me like a book.

Most years, Jimmy will delay loading me as long as possible. He knows that the longer I am in his establishment, the more likely I will submit to temptation and add to my order.It is funny how every year, on the trip out, we always say that we will be good boys and not add to the order, and every year on the trip back, the truck is much heavier than expected.

Jimmy always has limited supplies of interesting grapes and knows a sucker when he sees one. This year, however, I simply did not have much room for “specialty” batches and ended up only adding 5 additional lugs of a pinot noir from Paso Robles, to the order.I cannot wait to see how this one turns out.

In addition to the Pinot Noir, we ended up getting Merlot (100%) and Petit Sarah (100%) as our “main” wines (the wines that are shared by all members of the family), a cab/petit sarah/merlot blend as a “barrel reserve”, and a montepulciano as a “private reserve” to be shared just between myself and my brother.

While waiting to get loaded, we walked across the street to the Italian market for some cheese, salami, and bread to munch on the way home. It seems so fitting to eat this while driving a load of grapes to a winery!

We got back by 3pm and I spent the rest of the day setting things up and defrosting food. Got to bed early and (once again) tried I to get some sleep.

Saturday was the day! I got up at 4am, showered, and got the coffee going.I like this point in time, the calm before the storm.After a much needed cup, I got busy sterilizing equipment and attending to all of the last minute set up items.I then had 15 minutes to enjoy a second cup of coffee before my older brother (always the first to arrive) showed up with a number of other folks not too far behind.

My cousin, the homebrewer, arrived early to set up the beer station with the home brew that we made a month ago. I poured a short beer and am happy to say that the beer was awesome.Creamy, flavorful, and low octane.Just the right type of beer to be sipping while working.

The process worked great. I had a crew sorting grapes in the truck.Other folks stood at the end of the truck to load the sorted grapes into the pickup.I also had others taking the empty lugs, breaking them down, and loading them into the dumpster.My younger brother then drove the pickup around the back to the crusher/destemmer where a yet another crew loaded the grapes into the hopper and to also “hump” the crushed grapes into the winery where I had a person in charge of making sure that the proper grapes were dumped into the proper primary fermenter.Another person made sure that appropriate amount of k-meta was mixed in after each dumping.

MAN WHAT A CREW! It worked out great.Everyone was eager to help and smiled while doing so.It all went like clockwork.In fact, I was happy to see that work was finished by noon and cleanup was completed in only 30 minutes.All I can say is that it was just amazing.
Once the cleanup was finished, I called everyone over to the tent to begin the after-party. I had just enough time to pour out 2 rounds when the wife announced that lunch was ready.Unlike other years, we had no problem getting folks to the tables.The spread was awesome!Many folks brought a dish and we had all of the bases covered with all of the Hungarian favorites and a good selection of Italian foods to choose from.My goulash was a huge hit as was my brother’s chicken paprikash.I was surprised (and a little relieved) to see that most of the lunch selection was gone.


Right after lunch (around 3pm) it was back to the tent for most of us where we proceeded to run though about 3 cases of wine. I had stocked up my humidor and brought it out for some celebratory smoking.Things really got rolling when my sister in law and her husband brought out the guitar and got us all singing.By 7pm, some of the folks had left and we were down to our last 20 people, and we sat down to dinner.Unlike lunch, a lot less was eaten as most were still full from lunch.The after party went on until about 10:30, where we were down to just the folks that were staying at the house and a number of campers.

This year we tried something new. I asked folks to bring tents.Some took me up on this and we had our own tent-city set up right next to the party tent.This worked out great since the house was filled with out of state guests and every bed and couch were spoken for.For the campers, sleep was just a short stagger away and worrying about driving home was no longer a concern.I have no idea why I had not thought of tents before, but I have a feeling a new trend has been started.

The party continued inside the house. One by one, folks turned in and I ended up saying good night to the older brother around 1am.Slept like a baby!

All-in-all, this year’s crush was a happy one. There was no drama and no major problems.

Simply the best crush ever!!!
 

Steve_M

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John,
What did your order consist of with regards to type of grape and amount?
Need I say,? Without pictures did it really happen?:h
 

stickman

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Man I'm exhausted just thinking about what went into all of that, good job, I wish I had that energy.
 

JohnT

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It is a labor of love folks. In a large way, this is my way to contribute to the family and also provide friends with a good time.

I have posted some pictures on the "Post your crush day photos" thread. I did not want to post them twice. I did not take a lot of photos because my *^*&)(* cell phone died. I did ask others to take some and I will post them as soon as they are sent to me. I will also be sure to take some during the grape press on Saturday.

We had about 50 people attend and not a bum in the lot. I truly am lucky to have such good people stick by me and support me all these years. It is they that make all of this worth while.
 
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JohnT

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Update: The wines are fermenting nicely.

I have been punching down both morning and evening since last Saturday.

For punch downs, I first open up the winery and turn on a box fan to vent the CO2. This is no joke. With the amount of wine that I have fermenting, a person could easily pass out. There have definitely been times where I felt the effects of high CO2 (sweating, dizzy, heavy breathing, heart beating out of my chest). In fact, there was one time that I nearly did pass out. Since then I have developed a healthy respect for CO2 and make it a point to vent it out.

So at each punch down, I open up the winery and vent for 10 minutes. I then punch down the cap, give the must a good stir, and then take temp and brix readings. Like many other winemakers, I like to chart the pattern of the fermentation for later consideration.

All of the wines are currently around 4 brix as of this morning. The temps remain high (around 88 degrees give or take) and I am very happy with the color extraction so far.

Tomorrow, Saturday, will be press day and I expect about 12 people to come and help.

12 people is way more than I need. It usually comes down to 1 person skimming off the caps into totes, two people dumping the totes into the press, and two people to lug the wine from the press into the tanks. With 12 attending, people will have the chance to take a break***.

I expect that pressing will take about 6 hours. The clean up will take another hour. When finished, and the "wine is in the can", we usually set the chairs in a circle, sip some of the good stuff, and enjoy a cigar.

Afterwards, the plan is for all of us to head out to a local steak house for some 24 ounce delmonicos! I always pick up the check as a "thank you" for those that were dedicated to come for both crush and press days. I have 2 designated drivers with minivans already lined up.

Sunday will be dedicated to doing the final cleaning and watching football.

I will let you all know how it goes.

*** Break = sip some wine.
 

JohnT

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2016 is "in the can"!!!

Pressing went very well on Saturday.

I started skimming the first cap at around 7am. By the time the crew started showing up, I had one large fermenter already pumped out and being pressed. We were able to pull a fermenter out of the winery and make room for people to work.

I have found that the key to pressing is low pressure and time. I always remember how my Grandfather used to say.. "pressure and time is how gems are made". This is profound, but not so easy to put into practice. We had a lot to press and the urge was to dial up the pressure and 'git er done'. I, however, was diligent with going low and slow.

Around noon, I started pulling corks. This was very strategic since wine always seems to help with patience. My press has a regulator so all we needed to do is to set the pressure let the machine do the rest (while we sit, sip, and relax). Every now and then, one of us would get up to take the full bucket to the tank.

When my wife saw that wine was being sipped, she brought out a variety of salami, cheese, crackers, chips, etc. She always makes sure that food is available when wine is in play (bless her heart).

By 5pm, we were finished. Everything was washed and ready to be put away. The folks did an amazing job cleaning up.

With the wine "in the can" and all equipment cleaned up, the 10 of us that still remained headed out to the local steak house for dinner. This was my treat, a big "thank you" for those that came and helped to press. Pressing is the silent, messy part of crush and I feel that I owe it to these folks.

All of the wines have fermented to completion. I could not be happier with the color extraction we got this year. Sampling the wines from the press confirmed that this could be our best year yet!

I will inoculate with MLB tonight. I rack in 2 weeks.

I need to get a move on! It is just 350 days until crush!!!

I have posted pics on the "post your crush day photos" thread.
 

JohnT

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Saturday was racking day. I did most of this myself since all it really takes is to wash out the empty tanks and sit/watch the pump. My brother and nephew came by to help.

Tasted each wine (I know, tough job) and took PH and TA readings on everything that I racked. I had to make an acid adjustment to the Montepulciano and a very slight acid adjustment to the Petit Sarah.
In tasting the wine, I could tell that MLF has definitely softened the wine down to an enjoyable level.

I added 10 ppm SO2 before lidding each tank. The plan is to rack again just before thankgiving.

Sunday, I spent some time cleaning the winery. I washed the floor, the walls, scrubbed the outside of the tanks and lids, and washed/cleaned all surfaces.

Once done, I just stood in there sipping a nice 2014, and just admired the nice clean winery. I love an accomplishment high!
 

JohnT

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One other thought..

The fruit flies were under control this year. I laid out soda-bottle traps and they really worked well (as always).

I also spent a lot of time on patrol with my vacuum cleaner, sucking up the stubborn flies that did not have the decency to die.

Here is a pick. The little buggers are hard to see..

IMG_20161014_194521_657.jpg
 

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