Weekend update

October 3, 2011

Welcome back! Last Saturday we received our first lot of Cabernet Sauvignon from the China Bowl block. The Cab has been ripening up pretty slowly because of the relatively cool year we’ve had, so we picked primarily from the steepest hillside portions of the vineyard. Hillsides tend to ripen up faster because they have better drainage, meaning that there is less water available in the soil. In turn, the vines take up less water, which results in less dilution of the sugar in the grapes as they ripen. Saturdays’ grapes were not particularly high in sugar, but due to the long hangtime they’ve experienced this year they were very intensely flavored and colored.
The picking crew on Saturday brought their own little flatbed truck to bring the fruit up to the winery. We got slightly over five tons on this first pick, so we received the grapes in two shipments over the course of the morning.

The grapes we brought in were a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon clones 337 and 15, both of which are French clones known for their small berries, open clusters, and fine tannins and flavors.

While open clusters like this can definitely make farming easier (they allow air to circulate amongst the berries, which helps prevent botrytis), they can actually make processing a little tricky at the winery. The long stems can mesh together in the destemmer and clog the intake, so you have to load it very slowly and really dial in the destemmers' speed to keep it running properly.

Since there was virtually no shrivel in this lot, we did not cold soak. Instead we crushed it straight to tank and immediately inoculated with Prisse de Mousse yeast. Today it is already fermenting strong; it smells very clean and fruity (typical of a Prisse de Mousse fermentation), and is displaying the ripe black currant aroma that is typical of Cabs from Sonoma Valley. As you can see in the picture below, the color is already particularly intense.

Solids in the juice make the color appear lighter than it actually is. Since this is already fairly dark, we could it expect it to be inky black by the time it has settled after fermentation.


 To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main website, please click here.


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