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Okanagancook

2015 Grape Harvest in the Okanagan, B.C., Canada

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Yikes, the seal on the white wine tank is leaking.  It is made of flexible plastic and is leaking at the seam!  Not good.  HD off to Oliver to pick up a new one...1 1/2 hour round trip drive.  I'm not looking forward to installing it on the metal lid.  Could be some blue air coming out of the garage.

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Great blog, very fascinating! I love Naramata - it's been a few years since I've been. We're heading out there for the big marathon in a couple weeks, so hopefully we'll get a chance to visit some of the wineries there. 

 

How did you get into wine making? Do you produce mostly for consuming at home, or do you sell it? Have you grown other grape varietals or do you stick to pinot gris & merlot?

 

(Teehee! My profile pic is from a Naramata vineyard! Can't remember which, though.)


Edited by Beebs (log)

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The fall wine festival starts next week. On for a week or so. After that most of the smaller wineries will be closed, too bad. If you have specific wineries you want to visit you may want to call them ahead to check their schedule.

If you have not been to Naramata in a few years you will be surprised at how many new wineries have opened on the Bench.

We got into winemaking when we grew our grapes! Getting lots of help from friends who also make wine from their grapes. In fact we organized a group of 15 or so people in Naramata who do the same. The group is called Artisan Winemakers of Naramata. I mentioned this in an earlier post.

We have the two varieties plus about 30 plants of Cabernet Franc to blend with the Merlot but they are only two years old and you do to get fruit until year three.

We only make for our and friends' consumption.

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DH got the new bladder for the tank after the drive to Oliver. Does not fit. Ordered one from Vancouver and will return the wrong sized one later. Ghrrrr. Meanwhile we will keep checking the leaky bladder and inflate it as necessary.

Also ordered screw caps for the white wine bottles. We have some corks left and will use them on the red then switch to screw caps. Bottling is way down the road. Whites are bottled in the spring and thr red will be bottled next fall.

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So glad someone added a new post to this thread because I had somehow missed it back in September and it has now surfaced again.

Thank you so much, Okanagancook, for documenting all this. I am fascinated and impressed by all you and your DH have managed to produce/accomplish. You live in what I think is the most beautiful part of the country - and where the weather is usually much better than the rest of Canada - so I am a teensy bit jealous too of course.

I have 2 sons who live near Nelson but I was not sure where Naramata was with reference to them - since you are all in the Okanagan and I could not recall exactly where Naramata is. So first I had to mapquest ... darn, you are a 4 plus hours drive from my oldest who makes peach and pear wine on his Kootenay Lake property. I think his methods are very primitive compared to yours however - and from what he tells me he doesn't bother to bottle the wine ... he just sells it to friends in 5 gallon plastic containers. I think he could use some lessons in the art of fine winemaking from you two.

Quick question ... backing up to the beginning of your chronicle .. do you wash the grapes at the point where the spiders are scurrying out or immediately press, etc. In other words, are there possibly some minute bits of spider essence incorporated into the final product from some who may not have joined the exodus? I am sure added protein is never a bad thing and I doubt it has any effect on final taste - just a weird question that struck me as I was looking at the pictures and reading your excellent narrative.

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Time to update.

 

The sulfur kills wild yeasts but the wine yeast that we add is resistant to sulfur and thrives.  Actually there are thousands of strains of grape yeasts.  Each one produces different aromatic compounds as they use the grape sugars for energy.  This obviously produces different tastes in the final wine product.  Many winemakers have their favourite yeasts which they use on various grape varieties.  All very scientific.

 

Deryn, I'm glad you found our little wine making operation interesting.  It is a 4 1/2 hour drive to Nelson.  My brother lives there.  He retired from Toronto a couple of years ago and loves it.  Nelson has pretty mild winters also.  Kootenay Lake provides the warmth in winter as does Lake Okanagan for us.  Your son sounds like he just has fun with this 'beverage making' operation.

 

To answer your question:  the grapes are never washed.  All the crap and corruption that is on/with the grapes which includes dead and live critters plus their webs, etc. goes into the grape distemer and gets fermented in the primary vessels (the blue ones in the previous post).  After the main fermentation is finished which takes around ten days, the grapes get pressed and that liquid is put into our secondary fermenting vessels.  These are 200 litre stainless steal vessels.  They are not full. We have about 119 litres of Pino Gris and 105 litres of Merlot.  Here is a picture of the Merlot:

DSC01194.jpg

DSC01195.jpg

 

The lid has a bladder around the edge that gets pumped up to keep the top just above the wine as it goes through its secondary fermentation and the gas produced escapes through a one-way valve.  We had trouble with one of the bladders and managed to order a new one quickly.  So, the wine, both the Merlot and the Pino Gris, have been in the vessels since October 10th.  We checked the sulphur levels then and there was none left (the wild yeasts consume it and die) so we added more and then rechecked the levels Oct 25 and it was low again.  We topped up the sulfur again and will continue to check the levels every month.  It is important to get a good seal to keep the oxygen out which will spoil the wine.

 

Last week my DH 'racked' the wine.  He takes the wine out through the facet that is near the bottom of the tank and puts it back into the blue barrels temporarily as he cleans the stainless steel tank.  There is a lot of sediment at the bottom of the tank which is composed of dead yeast cells and suspended particles from the wine that settle out.  Once the tank is cleaned he puts the wine back in and seals the tank.  This racking process clarifies the wine and will be done another two or three times depending on how clear it is getting.  You can filter your wine to get it clear but we don't have a filter machine and many think the filtering process takes out flavour from the wine.  You may see on the description of some wines that the winemaker filtered the wine or not, depends.  The larger wineries producing cheaper wine will filter as it is easier and another reason is so no sediment enters their bottles.  Our wine develops sediment in the bottle and needs to be decanted before consumption.

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With temperatures promised to drop to -10C this week, DH has moved the wine outside to cold stabilize it.  Basically it is a method of clarifying the wine.  Tartaric acid is the target for cold stabilization and will precipitate out at this low temperature.  You might have experienced tartaric acid crystals at the bottom of your glass of wine.  Not attractive. For more information on cold stabilization, Wikipedia has some nice information.

Just having a glass of last year's pinot gris.  Quite nice now.  Good acidity and crystal clear without, well, crystals at the bottom.

cheers

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Since the last post my DH has racked the wines again which is a clarifying method.  We put oak chips (in a cheese cloth bag) in the red on Dec 22 and took them out Jan 15th.  We tasted both wines and thought the red was fine but the white was a little on the acidic side and cloudy.  We took samples into a local wine consultant who tasted the wines and thought the red was almost perfect but suggested we add bentonite to the white which pulls out cloudy proteins from the wine as well as gelatine  to bind the astringent tannins.  This made the wine quite cloudy for a bit.  Last week we took another sample of the white into him as we felt it was still a little acidic on the finish and he suggested we add more gelatine which we have done.  Nothing to do but wait a few more weeks for everything to settle to the bottom of the tanks and rack again before bottling.

 

The weather is getting warmer here and most commercial vineyards are starting to prune off last year's canes.  My DH is in no hurry so we will wait for a nice day probably in mid-February.  We only have 200 plants and the most work is bundling up the cut canes to take to the landfill.

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Well, it's a wrap.  The wine was bottled yesterday.  The Pino Gris was very, very dry so we added a little sugar to balance it out and that really helped.  Probably the best we've made.  The Merlot is also excellent but needs a couple of years in the bottle.  Pictures are of the bottles being washed with metabisulphate to kill any bacteria; then the wine is pumped from the tank into our slick little bottling machine which fills four bottles at a time; Then the screw caps which are swimming in the metabisulphate are applied.  We did use cork for a couple of cases. 

11 cases of Pino Gris and 9.5 cases of Merlot.  Next up is pruning the canes from last year and wait for bud break.  The feeling around the valley is that this year will be very busy due to our low Canadian dollar.  Our American friends can enjoy excellent wine & hospitality at basically almost 50% off.  As well, Canadians will think of staying in Canada and travelling to this area which is so beautiful with lots of activities for everyone.   "Come on down!

DSC01273.thumb.jpg.91b72fafd7f94f0f11a3eDSC01277.thumb.jpg.2922e6d9f838377261f28DSC01275.thumb.jpg.c3d791409c6e2d5a30516"

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@Okanagancook

 

Thank you for sharing your fascinating wine-making process. It's so cool to get an intimate peek inside what's esoteric to most of us.

 

I have a question about your 4-bottle filling machine. The bottles all seem to be filling at different rates in your photo. I looked, but I can't discern any manual cutoff valves or a recirculation system for overflow. What keeps the faster-filling bottles from spilling precious vino on the floor before the slower-filling bottles get full?

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Glad you enjoyed seeing the process.  The four outlets are on springs.  You push the empty bottle's neck up with the outlet inside and that opens the spring strung outlet and wine shoots into the bottle.  The bottle bottom wedges on the lower shelf which is adjustable for different sizes of bottles.  The bottle on the far right was put on first and is full which stops the flow of wine.  Then you just tilt the full bottle off the shelf and that's it.  Pretty cool really.  It's Italian made from high quality stainless steel.  We put a pump from the main tank to the bottle filler tank and pumped in more wine as needed.  Really easy to clean and we did almost 20 cases in 1 1/2 hours.

 

There was one glitch.  I turned the pump on to fill the bottler tanks and the hose wasn't secure so I showered our friend with Pino Gris for about a bottle's worth before I could point it back into the tank :unsure:

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