So, how did crush go for me?

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JohnT

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This year's crush was odd to say the least.

As you all may already know, I have retired to the mountains of Georgia. The wife and I simply love it here. We have waterfront property, beautiful mountain views in every direction, and tax that is 1/6 of what we were paying in NJ. Our quality of life is now better than we ever expected. Additionally, our new house is smack dab in the middle of wine country that has over 70 wineries within an hour's commute.

We have all but bottled out of my winery and are gearing up to sell the house. Now, I know what you are all thinking. "What about you winemaking?". Most of you should know by now that I am a die-hard winemaker. It is ingrained into my soul and DNA. I could never give it up. So, we have set up a new winery by sub-letting some commercial space attached to my brother's office. The space is 3 times the amount that we were working with and we spent a lot of time moving and setting up the winery equipment. It is so nice to be able to walk from one area to another without tripping over people and/or equipment. It is a dream come true!

The winemaking demands that I make the 14 hour trip up to NJ at least 3 times a year. One trip for crush/press, one trip for mid year racking, and one trip to bottle. All the required tasks in between these trips are handled by either my brother, niece, or nephew. Since one of these tasks is "Quality Control" they do not seem to mind the work load.

So this year when like this..

We drove up 6 days prior to crush. For 5 days I scrubbed, cleaned, and set up everything. I then spent the night before crush cooking. I come from a long line of Hungarian winemakers and having a spread of Hungarian dishes is a demand that all participants make. I cooked a batch of goulash, a batch of paprikash, and a whole boat load of spaetzle. Additionally I made a huge tin of eggplant parm, and a tin of meatballs and sausage. I also went to the Italian bakery for some nice loaves of bread, and a spread of assorted pastries. In short, no one was about to go hungry.

The day before crush we drove a truck down to the grape distributer. I placed my order 2 weeks ago and to my surprise found out that they had lost my order. All he had to sell me was petit verdot. To say that I was disappointed would be an under statement. For 30 years this guys had thousands of tons of grapes to choose from, but not this year. Still, at least we were able to get SOME grapes (only 45 lugs). He also had a white wine I had never heard of (albarino) and managed to pick up 11 lugs.

That's it for this year. Just 56 lugs! Just over one measly ton.

We got back to the new winery by 11am and had the grapes crushed and equipment cleaned by 2pm. After so many years of making wine with these folks, they have become a well oiled machine. The brix on the petit verdot was 26 and the albarino was 25. TA on both were in the .34 range. I adjusted the acid up to .59 on both.

After crush, we did what we always do. We formed chairs into a circle, dug into the food, sipped some older vintages that I had been saving, and had he best of times.

I spent the following week doing further cleaning and putting the equipment away. I also cleaned and prepared the hydraulic press.

I did have one request from my brother. He wanted to make some hard apple cider this year. It just so happens that across the street from where I was staying is a farm outlet. I have come to know the owner over the years and she was willing to sell me apples $5 per half bushel. I ended up getting $50 worth (enough apples to make about 12 gallons).

Since I do not like to use my wine making equipment for anything other than grape wine, I spent some time jerry-rigging an old, used 5 gallon press that I had in deep storage for 20 years or so. I also had a hand crank food mill that was an antique wall hanger someone had given me years ago. So we had all of the equipment and fruit we needed for a modest run of apple.

A week after crush we split into two teams. One team milled and pressed the apples outside of the winery, then brought the juice inside. The antique food mill was really meant for cider, shaving the apples into little tiny pieces, and not blitzing them into an apple sauce. The little pieces were ideal for pressing out juice. Our yield was just as I figured at 12.5 gallons. I made no adjustment for either acid (not needed at a TA of 6.1) or for sugar level (brix at 6.8). I plan to just let it ferment, clarify, and then enjoy.

The other team attended to the grape press. The yield was exactly where I figured it to be. I did a second adjustment on acid bringing the red up to .6 and the white up to .64. I then inoculated the red with CH16 MLB.

Once pressing was done, I spent the next few days doing a final cleanup. Then it was time to pack up and head back home to Ga. My brother racked the wine a week later. It does show some promise.

So, just like that, it is over. It was really a blur. I was able to visit with family during our stay in NJ. I have to say that the effort that others have put in will ensure our winemaking for years to come.

One last thing.. I have found that I can fit 9 cases of wine into the SUV without hearing too much complaint from the Mrs. Slowly my wine supply in Ga has been growing. I currently have moved down 24 cases. Just 200 more to go.

Go Dawgs!

johnT.
 
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NorCal

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Nice read. I will be interested in seeing how you like Petit Verdot as a single vareital. While more commonly used as a blending grape, I've tasted some that were surprisingly good. A big, inky, tannic, but fruity wine.
 

Juniper Hill

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Nice to see you've continued to make wine into retirement. Not sure I'll be able to do the same (I'm about 5-10 years away from downsizing) - will require some serious convincing. Petite Verdot is quite a nice variety IMO - lots of good fruit and tannins, kinda like if Petite Sirah and Merlot had a baby. I've used a a blender with PS and Marquette. Albarinio is a nice neutral white, solid but nothing flashy. I've never had the chance to make it myself.
 

Nebbiolo020

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Nice to see you've continued to make wine into retirement. Not sure I'll be able to do the same (I'm about 5-10 years away from downsizing) - will require some serious convincing. Petite Verdot is quite a nice variety IMO - lots of good fruit and tannins, kinda like if Petite Sirah and Merlot had a baby. I've used a a blender with PS and Marquette. Albarinio is a nice neutral white, solid but nothing flashy. I've never had the chance to make it myself.
Everyone’s downsizing and I’m scaling up right now, I realized I had a problem when I hit the limit on winemaking at home which is 200 gallons a year. Though I also work at a commercial winery as well. But it’s kinda crazy that I had to cancel a couple planned grape pickups because I hit the cap.
 

Jovimaple

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Everyone’s downsizing and I’m scaling up right now, I realized I had a problem when I hit the limit on winemaking at home which is 200 gallons a year. Though I also work at a commercial winery as well. But it’s kinda crazy that I had to cancel a couple planned grape pickups because I hit the cap.
I wish I had the space to get near the quota!
 
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winemaker81

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But it’s kinda crazy that I had to cancel a couple planned grape pickups because I hit the cap.
Find folks interested in a co-op?

I'm making more than I need (75-80 gallons/year) -- but my son and niece are taking part. I keep track of all expenses, and after bottling I figure the cost to produce each bottle, and they reimburse me for however much wine they want. My son shares the labor and while my niece can't physically be present, we often have her on conference call while we're tending the winery.

The couple from which I purchased my barrels had a 5 family co-op. Some folks dropped out so they needed less capacity, which worked out great for me as I wanted neutral barrels in very good condition.
 

Nebbiolo020

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Find folks interested in a co-op?

I'm making more than I need (75-80 gallons/year) -- but my son and niece are taking part. I keep track of all expenses, and after bottling I figure the cost to produce each bottle, and they reimburse me for however much wine they want. My son shares the labor and while my niece can't physically be present, we often have her on conference call while we're tending the winery.

The couple from which I purchased my barrels had a 5 family co-op. Some folks dropped out so they needed less capacity, which worked out great for me as I wanted neutral barrels in very good condition.
I’m going to look into that
 

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