Sleepless in Wine-landia

A good and wise friend of mine told me a few days ago that “being self employed means thinking while others sleep.” He couldn’t have put it better and I’ve lost a few nights sleep lately trying to wrap my head around the wine bottling conundrum.  Yes, it is that time. It’s wine-o’clock: Time to Bottle!

In the wine room with my newly purchased bottles and corks

In the wine room with my newly purchased bottles and corks

Two weeks ago it became apparent that it was time to make my final blends. I needed a wine pump to do that and my supplier in San Diego had none in stock. I found one in Ensenada and am convinced that it was the ONLY small wine pump in the whole city! (Don’t try and tell me otherwise) The pump came to me with a couple of wires sticking out and I was advised to go to any hardware store to get what I’d need to plug it into the wall. Talk about a goat rodeo. I went to Home Depot where five employees gathered around to determine just exactly what I needed to make my new pump run. The magic formula it was agreed upon by consensus is that I needed a transformer (among other things). My wine pump is 12 volt and my house is 110 … a recipe for disaster? Unfortunately Home Depot in Ensenada did not have what I needed so they happily sent me down the road with a few suggestions. I searched high. I searched low. I followed every lead and still could not scare up the magical transformer that would allow me to carry on with my winemaking work.

I sang my woes to another friend and he suggested using a car battery to make the pump run. Voila! I got the neighbor kid across the street to help me and naturally he was completely nonplussed. He took the battery out of my car and hooked the pump to it like it’s something you do everyday. Gotta love Mexico.

wine pump attached to car battery

The new wine pump attached to my car battery. Viva Mexico!

Dear readers and devoted fans of Bacchus, as you recall my barrels do not fit through the door of my wine room and every time I rack them I have to take a window out and huff the barrels up and through in order to rinse them of sediment before returning the wine to them. Hey. We do what we gotta do, right?

wine barrel through the window

They’re heavier than they look

Blending day was a fun day and I could not have been happier with the results. Utilizing my taste buds along with the principles of the Golden Proportion as suggested by friend and wine making mentor, Aime Desponds, I discovered the sweet spot in my formulas.

My neighbor helps me with the vino

Blending vino with my neighbor, Luis

My first two releases will be Lady in Red, a Mourvédre based blend with Grenache and Syrah. And 50 Shades of Red, a Grenache based blend with Mourvédre, Syrah, Cab Rouge (another name for Cabernet Sauvignon) and a smidgeon of Barbera. They’re both yummy, fresh young wines, very lightly barreled but with good body. My lab analysis of the finished blends put my mind at ease. They both are stable and healthy and have perfect pH. Lady in Red has 13.8% alcohol and 50 Shades has 13.4% … not bad if you ask me …. !

A few days ago I added egg white to the barrel to help clarify before bottling. I’ve racked the wines several times and there is almost no sediment but this commonly utilized method also binds with astringent tannins to help round out the mouth-feel of the wine.

 

Mixing egg white with wine

Egg white, wine, a pinch of salt!

I scheduled a bottling date with Paralelo, one of Hugo D’Acosta’s wineries and associated with the local wine school I attended last fall, and eagerly set to figuring out the logistics ….. pumping wine from barrel to tambo, hauling barrels through the window to rinse them outside, hauling 200 liter tambos filled with wine to a pick up truck which I had yet to find, hauling 65 cases of wine bottles into same yet-to-be-found truck, hauling all of the above over bumpy dirt roads to a winery that has several other producers bottling that same day, putting my precious elixir through their mechanized system, hauling all the cases of filled wine bottles back to my casa and unloading them along with the empty tambos … Exhausting! I started worrying about the vino. Wine does not like a lot of movement. It does not like rough handling. Gentleness and minimum intervention are the keys! Bottle-shock (otherwise known as bottle sickness) is a real phenomenon that occurs when wines are subject to vibrations, travel, changes of temperature and light … in short, though some degrees of bottle-shock are almost impossible to avoid, wine makers jump through hoops to minimize the upset and protect their wines from the unpleasant discordancy that results from excessive manhandling.

I tossed and turned. I laid awake truly obsessed with the outcome of the wine with which my future will be determined. An epiphany of sorts hit me. And the solution was right under my nose …. Bottle at home, durrrr. It’s only three barrels, around 625 liters, approximately 800 or so bottles …. Why complicate my life and risk the health of my beautiful hand-crafted wine?

So this is it. I’ve got a friend or two coming by to help. All will be well in wine-landia. My sleepless nights are coming to a close (for now) … Stay tuned for the results!

Happy Spring Holidays!

Vineyard with new leaves

Dry-farmed old vines with new Spring growth

 

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2 Responses to “Sleepless in Wine-landia”

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  1. Roberta says:

    Beautiful photo of the old vines, Sitara. As to your bottling dilemma, isn’t it always the way – lie awake staring at the ceiling for a couple nights, then one morning around 3 am, things become super claro! xoxoxox Roberta

    • valleygirl says:

      That’s exactly how it seems to work, Roberta! I’ve got everything lined up now and am ready to rock ‘n roll. Sending squeezes across the ocean xo>>>

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