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Wine Blog


Carolyn Tillie
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... Here, we are soaking various different lots of potential corks in Skyy Vodka. After a few days, they'll be able to look at the perosity to see which will be the best cork for bottling this year:

i7710.jpg

I just found this blog, and am thoroughly enjoying it - and almost overwhelmingly homesick, even though you're farther north than my home grounds! Blog on!

Let's hear more about the corks! I've heard and read about the increasing problems finding good cork (although the reason escapes me - disease? overharvest?), and I've tasted the result of putting a crummy cork on a good bottle of wine. It sounds as though porosity is only one thing you have to check. Bonnie Doon and a few others are trying the specially engineered screw tops. Meanwhile, some of my favorite wines have plastic (perhaps plastic-coated?) corks, and I'm wondering whether that isn't the wave of the future as more of the world buys wine. What is the winery's take on alternative corks, if you've thought about that at all?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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What was interesting to me was that I like cooking rabbits. I kept saying that if Gabriel shot them, I would cook them, but these are ostensibly inedible due to being ridden with bugs themselves.

Despite the fact that these cute little bunnies eat wonderfully on grape leaves, when one is shot, you can actually see the vermin (maggits and whatnot) leaving the host body. Quite disgusting - I'll still cook and eat them, but will make sure I am buying farm-raised, cooking bunnies.

Eeeeeeewwwww....4_6_100.gif

If that ain't nasty enough to skeeve me off ordering rabbit for awhile, nothing is!

Katie, that little "eww" face is hilarious! :laugh:

Interesting about the visible vermin, but I want to add a note on the invisible hazards (and then point another thread this way - I hope that's all right?). I grew up in a hunting family, but far from killing and eating the jackrabbits that pestered our young vineyards and young orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, my parents impressed on us younguns to never, ever touch those rabbits, dead or alive. We did not eat those rabbits; they were not the "eating" kind. Far from being cute cuddly Peter Cottontail or his less domesticated cousins (whom I have cooked and eaten with glee, out here in the frozen northland), they were riddled with disease and vermin. They specifically carried tularemia, a.k.a. "rabbit fever", which is a bacterial disease. I had the impression from my parents that it was peculiar to jackrabbits, but I must say that my 5 minutes' worth of reading from the CDC a couple of minutes ago suggests that other rabbits as well as rodents can also carry it. So, if I'm off base or being overly alarmist, someone should set me straight.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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What was interesting to me was that I like cooking rabbits. I kept saying that if Gabriel shot them, I would cook them, but these are ostensibly inedible due to being ridden with bugs themselves.

Despite the fact that these cute little bunnies eat wonderfully on grape leaves, when one is shot, you can actually see the vermin (maggits and whatnot) leaving the host body. Quite disgusting - I'll still cook and eat them, but will make sure I am buying farm-raised, cooking bunnies.

Eeeeeeewwwww....4_6_100.gif

If that ain't nasty enough to skeeve me off ordering rabbit for awhile, nothing is!

Katie, that little "eww" face is hilarious! :laugh:

Interesting about the visible vermin, but I want to add a note on the invisible hazards (and then point another thread this way - I hope that's all right?). I grew up in a hunting family, but far from killing and eating the jackrabbits that pestered our young vineyards and young orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, my parents impressed on us younguns to never, ever touch those rabbits, dead or alive. We did not eat those rabbits; they were not the "eating" kind. Far from being cute cuddly Peter Cottontail or his less domesticated cousins (whom I have cooked and eaten with glee, out here in the frozen northland), they were riddled with disease and vermin. They specifically carried tularemia, a.k.a. "rabbit fever", which is a bacterial disease. I had the impression from my parents that it was peculiar to jackrabbits, but I must say that my 5 minutes' worth of reading from the CDC a couple of minutes ago suggests that other rabbits as well as rodents can also carry it. So, if I'm off base or being overly alarmist, someone should set me straight.

Rabbit fever Link http://health.utah.gov/els/epidemiology/ep...ts/tularem.html

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Let's hear more about the corks! I've heard and read about the increasing problems finding good cork (although the reason escapes me - disease? overharvest?), and I've tasted the result of putting a crummy cork on a good bottle of wine. It sounds as though porosity is only one thing you have to check. Bonnie Doon and a few others are trying the specially engineered screw tops. Meanwhile, some of my favorite wines have plastic (perhaps plastic-coated?) corks, and I'm wondering whether that isn't the wave of the future as more of the world buys wine. What is the winery's take on alternative corks, if you've thought about that at all?

The "cork problems" are varied. For starters, there is TCA (cork taint) which realistically occurs in 4 to 5% of all wine produced.

The Australian Grapegrower & Winemakers May 1999 analysis indicated,

Cork taint was considered the major problem associated with use of these closures for many decades. Reliable statistics on the number of corked wines are difficult to find. It is assumed that 4% of these wines are, in some ways adversely affected by the closure and the average value of a wine is $10 per bottle, this equates to approximately $160 million worth of product being spoiled every year. This financial loss is further accentuated by the potential erosion of consumer confidence, and associated loss of brand loyalty.

There are a ton of synthetic cork producers out there trying to promote their product. I know the man who helped develop the NeoCork and, interestingly, he is able to sell his product better in Germany than here in America.

In speaking with our winemaker about cork issues, she explained to me that synthetic corks are fine for wines that are made to be drunk young - Sauvignon Blanc or less high-quality reds (I struggle with the concept of cheaper). This is because synthetic corks don't expand enough over the duration of a wine's aging and more oxygen can seep in. At GunBun, they use synthetic corks on their Bearitage blends (basically, their cheapest wine), but real corks on the rest of their offerings. You wouldn't want oxygen to seep into a red that needs to lay down for ten or twenty years and synthetic corks simply don't have a track record yet for that type of aging.

Pat, the owner, chimed in and explained to me that when screw-top closures become more of the industry standard, it would be the best route to take. Right now, we utilize a mobile bottling unit which only utilizes corks.

Does that help?

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Eeeeeeewwwww....4_6_100.gif

If that ain't nasty enough to skeeve me off ordering rabbit for awhile, nothing is!

:laugh::laugh:

:unsure:

Hmmm.

Is this particular to rabbits that live in vinyards, or all rabbits, including forest rabbits?

:huh:

Carolyn, I just want to add that this is the most wonderful thread. I love reading through the seasons with you. Great job. :biggrin:

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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Hmmm.

Is this particular to rabbits that live in vinyards, or all rabbits, including forest rabbits?

:huh:

Well, the only forests that are around here are the Petrified Forests and you can't kill those rabbits. The disease of discussion probably does include all wild rabbits, hence the need to purchase farm-raised critters for cooking.

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For starters, there is TCA (cork taint) which realistically occurs in 4 to 5% of all wine produced.

Another note on cork taint (sorry, can't help you with the rabbits!) . . .

Chlorine has traditionally been used to sanitize corks before packaging them for shipping, but it somehow contributes to the trichloroanisole (pronounced "corked") problem. Cork producers are now offering corks that have been sterilized with potassium metabisulfite or by ozonation. The new methods don't have a track record yet, but look promising.

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Pat, the owner, chimed in and explained to me that when screw-top closures become more of the industry standard, it would be the best route to take. Right now, we utilize a mobile bottling unit which only utilizes corks.

It seems to me that the owner of your winery is in a good position to take a bit of leadership in this area and use screw-tops. Some other California wineries (Willakenzie Estate, PlumpJack, Cuvaison, Silverado, Bonny Doon, Fetzer Vineyards, Murphy-Goode Winery, Sonoma-Cutrer, Downing Family Vineyards, Whitehall Lane Winery, Argyle and Corbett Canyon) have used the Stelvin screw-top closure with good results.

Our wine agency imports a lot of Australian and New Zealand wine and the screw-top has found ready acceptance there. No more corked bottles!

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Yep , here in Australia the screw - cap already is industry standard for all whites and all early drinking reds. The top producers - even of red wines expected to reach theri peak for at least 10 years are also now bottling with screwcaps. Often the demand is as much from wine buyers who have paid big bucks for some nice red just to find its corked!

There is some discussion of the need for a reduction in the sulphur levels when bottling reds otherwise many can have problems with reduction.

Cheers

Paul

Edited by episyd (log)
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I was wondering if you could further explain what your doing with the corks. or what happens next. So you soak them in vodka , why? do you need the alcohol for penatration? do you visually inspect them after? if so why not use a colored liquid?

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Yep , here in Australia the screw - cap already is industry standard for all whites and all early drinking reds. The top producers - even of red wines expected to reach theri peak for at least 10 years are also now bottling with screwcaps. Often the demand is as much from wine buyers who have paid big bucks for some nice red just to find its corked!

There is some discussion of the need for a reduction in the sulphur levels when bottling reds otherwise many can have problems with reduction.

Cheers

Paul

I think you have hit the nail on the head: EARLY DRINKING REDS.

We are producing a Cab that could easily be cellared for forty or fifty years -- and there is no industry information yet establishing that screwcaps would be a viable method of closure for reds that need lying down.

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I was wondering if you could further explain what your doing with the corks. or what happens next. So you soak them in vodka , why? do you need the alcohol for penatration? do you visually inspect them after? if so why not use a colored liquid?

I watched Karen -- what she does next is SMELL the vodka. These corks have been soaking in the vodka for at least 48 hours and if there is the fear of taint, it often comes from the cork itself. She had me smell one that was a potential concern and indeed, the musty smell of taint (and, oddly, mint) was detectable in the vodka. Her analysis in smelling the left-over liquid (the corks are just thrown away), is methodical and done in wine glasses where she can swirl the liquid (just like a wine) to expand the aromas.

Vodka is a milder form of the alcohol needed to extract out any of the potential impurities from the cork. Rubbing or denatured alcohol could potentially be too brutal on our wine maker's nostrils for this task. Consider that you can smell vodka without a burning sensation, but chemical alcohols are too strong to be smelled.

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I realized when I first showed you the winery, it was winter. The trees were bare and the flowers had died. It is stunning up here now and I'm just sorry I couldn't get the whole range of flowers in the picture...

i8087.jpg

I also can't stand far enough way from our vine to get it all in the shot:

i8086.jpg

Gabriel said he wasn't going to have these vines suckered for another week or so as they are still growing. Don't worry, though! I'll shoot it for all you to see!

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The vineyard is gorgeous!!!! You have flowers, and critters that eat flowers so I'm doubly impressed.

Is "when' to sucker a debatable question? DoverCanyon suckered her vines about 2 weeks ago. Or is it just a matter of climate and varietal when the suckering occurs?

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The vineyard is gorgeous!!!! You have flowers, and critters that eat flowers so I'm doubly impressed.

Is "when' to sucker a debatable question? DoverCanyon suckered her vines about 2 weeks ago. Or is it just a matter of climate and varietal when the suckering occurs?

It is entirely a climate and varietal-based decision.

Because of California's really weird hot Spring, I image DoverCanyon's weather has been abnormally hot (she did ask me earlier about a lack of water, so it is a reasonable assumption to make).

Also, because we are on a mountain, we have had milder temperatures so more slower, even growing this season. Yes, it has been hot -- but we are consistently 10 degrees cooler up here than on the valley floor, a mere 4 mile ascent.

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I'm having to stand outside the row of vines to try and get the whole thing in a single shot -- it still isn't working. We've been planting a new block and Gabriel really wants to finish planting it before setting the guys back into the fields to sucker (he's hoping by this Friday, we'll be done).

i8495.jpg

I'm going to start getting close-ups of the grapes so you can see how much bigger they are getting:

i8496.jpg

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What about those bugs that you posted a link to last week? silvery somethings? What's the update on those? Geez...it's always something! But, its lovely to see the grapes getting bigger.

Ah, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. U.C. Davis has a large website devoted to educating folks about the bug. If you look at the picture, it is hard to tell that he is smaller than a dime. According to the Sacramento Bee, the agricultural department has started spraying to keep the bug from getting into the valley.

If you look at the UC Davis site, you can see a map of California and where the previous infestation and the warning:

California's vineyards are facing a serious threat. The combination of a plant disease with no cure and a half-inch-long leafhopper called a glassy-winged sharpshooter has wrought millions of dollars of damage in just a few years.

Pierce's disease has existed for more than 100 years in the state, but until recently there was no carrier as effective in transmitting the bacteria more than a few feet and spreading the bacteria so rapidly.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter, first found in 1990 in Ventura County, has spread throughout Southern California. The insect is now moving northward.

While it is not something that any single Napa or Sonoma winery can do anything about, there does exist a huge awareness for workers in the valley to look for the bug and notify appropriate authorities of its existence. I guess the best analogy might be the threat of the Black Plague in Europe's early history. You knew it was in a neighboring county, knew it could wipe out an entire hamlet, and knew there was little one could do about it except hope it would bypass your particular village...

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Carolyn,

Thanks for posting the new pictures.

The young grapes look to be very hard/firm. Is this the case? I'm also assuming they are inedible at this point. How long will it take to get to an edible (but not necessarily ready to harvest) state?

 

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Carolyn,

Thanks for posting the new pictures.

The young grapes look to be very hard/firm. Is this the case? I'm also assuming they are inedible at this point. How long will it take to get to an edible (but not necessarily ready to harvest) state?

I ate un-ripe grapes from my fathers vine when I was little. Do not recommend it... I got really sick. I just thought they would be a little tarter than a ripe grape.

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Carolyn,

Thanks for posting the new pictures.

The young grapes look to be very hard/firm. Is this the case? I'm also assuming they are inedible at this point. How long will it take to get to an edible (but not necessarily ready to harvest) state?

Hathor's got it exactly right. Hard and bitter. The point where they become slightly edible is the beginning of verasion -- where it starts converting what its got inside to juice. That is when we start worrying about the birds...

Don't worry, dear friends! You'll see pictures. :raz:

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Carolyn -- are you still working at both vineyards? Or one more than the other. I mean, if a girl were in the area and wanted to stop by for a visit, which one should she try?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Carolyn -- are you still working at both vineyards? Or one more than the other. I mean, if a girl were in the area and wanted to stop by for a visit, which one should she try?

I am at Ladera Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It is the job that pays the rent. Ladera is an appointment-only winery so you need to call before "stopping by" as our Conditional Use Permit restricts walk-in visitors. 707-965-2445.

I am at GunBun on Sundays only -- and may cut back on some of those days in the next month or so as a six-day work-week is getting to me. The tasting room is open from 11:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and is open to the public seven days a week.

BTW, I have pictures this week, but am waiting for ImageGullet to get repaired.

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