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Apple Blush Wine

     This month, I am creating a new wine, Apple Blush.  It is a drier version of the traditional apple wine blended with pure red raspberry to provide the pink color and unique flavor.  The wine should be fruity, crisp, and smooth.

     Usually white wine requires a bentonite treatment that binds proteins in the wine that might throw a haze in the bottle if the bottle gets too warm.  With this wine, this treatment becomes unnecessary because of the tannins of the red raspberry.  They bind with the proteins preventing bottle haze.  This was confirmed by testing 15 mL samples in an oven at 125 F for 16 hours.  There was no difference between the heated and unheated samples.

     After the wine is filtered and bottled, it will take a couple of months for the wine to emerge from "bottle shock"; whereupon, the fruit flavor of the wine will "pop" back into the bottle.  Bottling is scheduled for the end of December, 2012.  We will see if it is ready to release by Valentine's Day.

Sat, December 8, 2012 | link          Comments

Is Winemaking a Science or Art?

Recently, a visitor to our tasting room asked me how much is winemaking a science vs art?  Certainly, science is important because the analyses are helpful, oftentimes essential, in making harvest and wine adjustment decisions.  However, making wine based on lab analyses alone can be like painting by numbers.

The art of winemaking includes the winemaker's ability to create and blend flavor, acid/sugar, alcohol, and textural components that results in a wine that smells, tastes, and feels good.

With so many wines in the market, every wine should satisfy those 3 elements and meet one's style preference and price point.

 

Tue, August 2, 2011 | link          Comments

Preparing for Harvest

It is the middle of summer and many wineries are busy bottling their wines and gearing up for this fall's harvest.  At Cascadia, we are fermenting a batch of our apple wine to be bottled in August.  In this way, we will have our tanks available for grapes.  

I will be busy in September and October analyzing grapes for other wineries and vineyards. Usually, I test for brix (% sugar), total acidity, and pH.  Invariably, I provide test results to them the day I receive the grapes.  It was a cool spring which may result in some under-ripe grapes for those who typically harvest in mid-October.  It depends on how the canopy is managed including controlling vine growth, removing lateral (unfruitful) shoots, and maintaining an appropriate cluster/vine ratio.

This harvest we will be producing Roussanne wine.  We had depleted our inventory of this wine in June, 2010.  The grapes will be harvested from the same vineyard and I will create the wine in the same style.   A.Y. 

Thu, July 15, 2010 | link          Comments

Malolactic Fermentation

After finishing the primary fermentation of reds, most wineries will inoculate them with bacteria that converts the malic acid to lactic acid.  This process commences after the yeast has converted the glucose to alcohol; otherwise, the bacteria can consume the glucose and produce acetic acid (vinegar). 

Many winemakers bottle their reds without filtering or by loose filtering whereby bacteria, if present, can reach the bottle.  If malic acid remains, the bacteria can digest it and produce a small amount of carbon dioxide.  A spritzy, red wine is not desirable!  Other reasons for malolactic fermentation include lowering the acidity of the wine and creating a softer texture and complexity from flavors emanating from the process.

In the enzymatic analyses that I conduct for other wineries, I advise that malolactic fermentation is completed when the malic acid level reaches 0.01 grams per 100 mL.

  

Sun, November 15, 2009 | link          Comments

End of Harvest 2009
The freezing weather during the 2nd week in October brought harvest to an abrupt end with many wineries frantically harvesting the balance of their grapes.  It has been a topsy turvy growing season.  The record high temperatures during the summer were of benefit to some vineyards that have had problems in achieving full ripening.  Others struggled with sunburned grapes.  This happened especially with rows that run north to south and have a vertical shoot canopy whereby the vine shoots are raised upward and the grape clusters dangle below with little or no leaf cover.  The western side of the canopy would get toasted by the afternoon sun.  Post-harvest, wineries will be bringing me samples to test for pH, acidity, sulfur content, alcohol, residual sugar, volatile acidity (degree of spoilage), and malic acid levels.
Sat, October 17, 2009 | link          Comments

Harvest 2009

I have conducted lab analyses for about 16 wineries in the region under our secondary business, Harmony Wine Services.  During September and October, I am asked to analyze grapes for their pH, % sugar or brix, and total acidity.  Coupled with their observations in the vineyard and tasting, the analyses help winemakers to decide when to harvest their grapes.  Because this information is vital, I supply the winemakers with the test results on the same day I receive the grapes.

This year, with the summer having long hot spells, I anticipate that some grapes will be lower in their acidity due to the loss of acids through respiration and that pH will be higher.  In other cases where the vineyard may have a northern exposure, the chemistry of the grapes may have a perfect balance of pH and acidity.

Through the end of harvest (October), I may find myself at the winery everday.

Wed, September 16, 2009 | link          Comments

Acidity and pH

I have been asked how a wine can have a high pH and high acidity when one would normally associate low pH with high acidity.  pH measures the concentration of hydrogen (or hydronium) ions in a liquid.  The greater the concentration, the lower the pH.  The level of potassium in the grapes can cause a high pH -- high acidity condition.  The source of the potassium could be in the soils or from not fully ripened grapes.  The potassium can bind with tartaric acid and prevent the hydrogen ion from going into the solution to be measured by the pH meter.  This is referred to as a "buffer" whereby there is a resistance for pH to change.  On the other hand, when one measures the acidity, it will result in accounting for the hydrogen ions that are bound up.  Winemakers prefer wines that are more balanced in their pH and acidity.  This is why good wine starts from sound vineyard practices in maturing the fruit.

Sat, June 13, 2009 | link          Comments

Cork
Occasionally, we are asked about corks.  Traditional punched corks may cost around $0.08 apiece.  There is concern about such corks drying out and losing their elasticity.  We have chosen to invest in corks that cost $0.19 apiece.  They have "microspheres" within them to enable uniform permeability and provide enhanced elasticity regardless of moisture content.  This is why our bottles can be stored upright with the corks dry.  Our corks are also produced in a sanitized method that prevents any off-aromas such as "corky" or "musty" from contaminating the flavor of the wine.  With so many wines available to buyers, we feel it is imperative that every bottle we produce maintains consistent quality.
Tue, April 7, 2009 | link          Comments

Wine Update
Our Roussanne is in the bottle.  Once the label is created, it will be sent to the Feds (TTB) for mandatory label approval.  After that, approval from the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).  Then, it goes to the printer and gets scheduled for production.  So, we should have it ready for sale in March.  Many visitors who have tasted this are disappointed that we are unable to sell this to them without a label.  But, we must abide by the regulations.

We are exploring a new venture of exporting our Apple Wine to Japan.  This wine continues to be our #1 selling wine year-round.  Although, our Chardonnay is competing well as we begin 2009.
Tue, January 27, 2009 | link          Comments

Cold Stabilization of White Wines
Our 2008 Roussanne wine is undergoing its cold stabilization in the tank.  Crystalizing out the bitartrates is a common practice for white and rose wines.  While bitartrates are tasteless, the investment in cooling the wine at 25-28 F to crystalize the bitartrates in the tank is done so that they will not develop in the bottle when stored in the refrigerator.  Once testing verifies the wine's stability, we will filter the wine off the tartrates.  The wine will be ready for bottling when the temperature reaches 55-60F.  AY
Mon, November 24, 2008 | link          Comments

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