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Wine Blog


Carolyn Tillie
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He spoke about wineries have to "double oak" (I think that's the phrase he used) wines to put flavor into them, because the grapes had been growing in such sickening and depleted soil, treated with chemicals and additives.

I've not heard of double oaking because of sickening or depleted soils, but because the winery can't afford to continually buy new barrels.

Double Oaking is done in a variety of different ways -- from oak chips added to old, used-up barrels to a more technical process called "interstaving" where long, thin strips of oak are lined up inside an old, used-up barrels.

If anyone wonders how wines like Two-Buck Chuck get their oak flavor, it is because oak chips or sawdust is added to the stainless steel tanks in which the wine is being made -- they don't spend their money on barrels.

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We have verasion folks!

Here is your ubiquitous vine:

i10987.jpg

And the grapes now have a bit of color!

i10988.jpg

But what you are also going to be seeing in the next few days is the start of our harvest! Pat and Anne have some Sauvignon Blanc planted in their backyard in St. Helena (just enough for 20 or 30 cases or so). The brix levels on those grapes were over 22 so they will be coming in tomorrow!

Havest has begun for Ladera!

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He spoke about wineries have to "double oak" (I think that's the phrase he used) wines to put flavor into them, because the grapes had been growing in such sickening and depleted soil, treated with chemicals and additives.

I've not heard of double oaking because of sickening or depleted soils, but because the winery can't afford to continually buy new barrels.

Double Oaking is done in a variety of different ways -- from oak chips added to old, used-up barrels to a more technical process called "interstaving" where long, thin strips of oak are lined up inside an old, used-up barrels.

If anyone wonders how wines like Two-Buck Chuck get their oak flavor, it is because oak chips or sawdust is added to the stainless steel tanks in which the wine is being made -- they don't spend their money on barrels.

I'm not so sure the motivations of the wineries that are "double oaking" with wood chips, suspended staves or sawdust are as noble as might be implied previously. They do it because they're overcropping and growing far too many grapes per acre (NOT dropping fruit as Carolyn mentioned earlier) and getting shitty quality juice from thin and weedy tasting grapes, more often than not in areas that aren't as ideal in terms of the growing conditions for the grape varietal in question. By giving it the "oak treatment" they can pass it off as having seen a real barrel and hopefully by conforming to the prevailing flavor profile that the less educated customer has come to expect, can get more money for their crappy manipulated wine. :angry:

A real winemaker with some skill and viticultural knowhow doesn't have to resort to these sorts of cheap tactics.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Oak Alternatives: Barrel Renewal Systems | Tank Stave Systems | Oak Chips | High Vanilla Oak Chips | Oak Stix | Oak Powder | Oak Squares

As usual, Katie is right on the money. Over-oaking is a common industry practice used to hide faults in a wine. Oak additives and alternatives are also used by large producers to increase cost effectiveness and efficiency.

Oak Chips:

Packaged loose in 40 pound woven plastic bags

Pre-packaged in two 20 pound "infusion bags" fabricated with polyester netting for direct placement into tanks. These two polyester bags are shipped inside a 40 pound protective outer bag.

Pre-packaged in 20-pound food grade nylon mesh bags, designed for direct placement into stainless steel tanks.

Here's the link to World Cooperage's oak alternatives, which could be fun to check out. Be sure to look up oak powder, which is supposed to be added to the fruit in the crusher to "remove vegetal characters" and add tannin. The Oak Stix are crisscrossing barrel inserts, but they only come in 'house' toast--as opposed to medium or heavy toast. :rolleyes:

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I thought I'd check in mid-week to show you how quickly the verasion is coming along on the grapes:

i11086.jpg

But also, since our harvest officially began, I thought I'd show the first of the crush. These are Sauvignon Blanc grapes which are actually being grown at Pat & Anne's house in St. Helena:

i11087.jpg

Because there aren't really a lot of these grapes (less than 50 gallons worth of juice when all is said and done), we are using a small, manual press.

i11085.jpg

The small, black bladder on the inside is filled with water. The pressure of the water pushes the grapes outwards towards the wood slats, making the juice.

i11088.jpg

I'm going to Idaho for a few days and won't be around the answer questions (or take the next picture!) until next Monday. But I'm sure DoverCanyon will be able to fill in on technical stuff...

:wub:

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Where are the purple feet? :shock::biggrin:

Well for starters, we aren't picking purple grapes yet!

Although here is the ironic part... This particular Sauvignon Blanc is labled Los Pies Sucios because the first year it was made, it WAS foot-stomped!

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Our typical vine shot (more fall colours!):

i11241.jpg

And you can see how far along the grapes have colored since just last Wednesday:

i11240.jpg

Also coming up this week -- BOTTLING! You'll get shots on Wednesday of that as we bottle the 2002 wines this week!

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Larger wineries, like Gundlach Bundschu, own and operate their own bottling line because they use it so frequently throughout the year. Here at Ladera, where we produce only about 5,000 cases thus far, we utlize a company that provides a bottling line in a large, mobil semi-truck:

i11440.jpg

With amazing precision, they roll-out this production line where we run a hose from our tanks (where the wine was put just a few days before, from the barrels) to their bottling system. Here the bottles are being filled.

i11442.jpg

As it runs around to get its label, capsule, and cork:

i11443.jpg

While still in the truck, the bottles get put back into cases and run down a ramp to get sealed and labeled.

i11441.jpg

They open a side door for air and you can see the image I have from my office window:

i11444.jpg

The bottling line set-up late on Tuesday night, starting running and filling bottles early Wednesday morning, ran a full 10 hours on Wednesday and finished up another 8 hours on Thursday. We are bottling rather late, considering we have to get these barrels empty and ready for the upcoming harvest -- which will happen quite soon! I think we are getting our first shipment of Chardonnay grapes within a week or so!

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How many cases did they do? We do 130-140 with friends and no truck.

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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I wish I was the inventor of those trucks. They certainly are amazing. :biggrin:

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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I've been very remiss this week -- too many foodie events have delayed my picture taking. As usual, our beloved vine:

i11804.jpg

And the close-up of the grapes, ripening away:

i11805.jpg

As we are going to be bringing in Chardonnay next week to start crush, I'll start introducing you to other parts and faces of winery. 'Tis the season, my friends!

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Carolyn:

I can't tell you how much fun and how interesting and edifying this blog has been. I'd always understood this process in a very academic and sort of detached and objective manner. Now I really "get it" and I have you (and DoverCanyon) to thank for that.

I'm also insanely jealous that you get to see those beautiful vineyards every day!!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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It seems as if the season has gone so quickly! The grapes have gone from little shot pellets to fully ripe in such a short time. The winery must just be buzzing with activity. When eGullet gets its next upgrade, we should insist on a 'smell' feature. I would give anything to be able to smell the grapes, the crushing etc. etc.

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I'm not so sure the motivations of the wineries that are "double oaking" with wood chips, suspended staves or sawdust are as noble as might be implied previously.  They do it because they're overcropping and growing far too many grapes per acre (NOT dropping fruit as Carolyn mentioned earlier) and getting shitty quality juice from thin and weedy tasting grapes, more often than not in areas that aren't as ideal in terms of the growing conditions for the grape varietal in question.  By giving it the "oak treatment" they can pass it off as having seen a real barrel and hopefully by conforming to the prevailing flavor profile that the less educated customer has come to expect, can get more money for their crappy manipulated wine. :angry:

A real winemaker with some skill and viticultural knowhow doesn't have to resort to these sorts of cheap tactics.

Katie, thank you for solving a mystery! My husband and I have been carping for years about the over-oaked flavor of so many inexpensive wines and wondering why that practice caught on. We've been thinking it was some inexplicable flavor fad. I hadn't realized the strong oak (he calls it pine tar) flavor was supposed to mask a crappy wine; I just thought it made for a crappy wine. :angry:

Edited to add: I really, really love this blog!

Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Don't know if you can really see a difference in our vine:

i12076.jpg

'Nor in the grapes -- at this point, if they are purple, then they aren't going to look much different (I believe) until they are picked:

i12077.jpg

So coming up, I'll start focusing on the rest of the production until our grapes are actually picked!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The buzz is palpable. The arrival of some new equipment (a sorting table) and the washing of all the old barrels and stainless tanks marks the inevitable -- grapes will be arriving shortly!

You can see the grapes, dripping down below the leaves...

gallery_431_39_1094614458.jpg

...to be picked very soon!

gallery_431_39_1094614768.jpg

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Awesome!!! The fruit is so pretty! This is way way cool...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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This is the kind of thing the web and eGullet were made for. Thanks, Carolyn for the continuing saga.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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