Sauvignon Blanc

  • Cellar know-how: Wine Diamonds and how to prevent them

    October 23, 2015 13:45

    More cellar know-how continues in my posts this month along with other vineyard matters. Today I am focusing on cold stabilization and how important it is to white wine production.

    Cold stabilization is the only method we use for our white wines, rosé and even our Pinot Noir in order to prevent a certain type of sediment. This procedure is to make sure you don’t get potassium bitartrates, commonly referred to as tartrates (and wine diamonds), in your wine once it has been refrigerated or caught on a shipment in the deep freeze north or perhaps thrown in your freezer for a quick chill and you forgot to take it out in 30 minutes. This means the temperature controlled stainless steel tanks are brought down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the harmless wine diamonds drop and are filtered out. Simple as that-a toast to cellar work post-harvest with a splash of Chardonnay in my Dino.

    Frosty 2015 Sauvignon Blanc during the cold stabilization period to remove tartrates.

    Cold Stabilization

  • First Pick

    August 20, 2015 14:47

    First day of harvest is much like the first day of school, at least for the grapes. Or maybe like a final exam. They have been growing and maturing all summer long and now the big day is here: the first gondola of harvest. This year's vintage kicked off on August 17.

    2015 Harvest taking samples

    The crew had been picking since 6am. The first two gondolas of our Sauvignon Blanc arrived around 9:30 to weigh in at the scale. Together they totaled 10,575 lbs and a sample was taken by the cellar crew to determine Brix (sugar), pH and acidity. They were transported to the crush pad where the gondola was tipped into the conveyor. You see Polo Cano, our cellarmaster, at the crush pad.

    2015 Harvest polo at crusher

    As the grapes were poured from the gondola two generations of Pedroncellis stood by to check out the quality. Jim Pedroncelli (2nd generation) on the left and Mitch Blakeley (4th generation) on the right. 2015 is starting out early and going to go very quickly as most other vineyards are nearing what is called proper maturity. You’ll remember our bud break was early and the season following has been mostly mild and without many problems. A toast to the 2015 vintage with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc in my Dino!

    2015 Harvest Jim and Mitch

  • Winespeak: Acidity

    July 22, 2015 15:39

    Posts this month focus on what I call winespeak which are terms that sometimes are obvious in meaning and others are not. Today’s word is acidity.

    Acidity is what you would call a building block toward balance in wine. Less of it and the wine becomes flabby, too much and your lips will pucker. Levels of acidity start with grapes and depend on the type of climate where they are grown. Dry Creek Valley, for instance, has warm days bracketed by marine fog. The cooling fog layer rolls in at the end of the day and stays sometimes until mid-morning. The combination both ripens and evens the development in the grapes by using a little refrigerator action in the evenings. Wines from warmer regions develop as well but in a different way. It is the reason we as farmers are concerned if the weather is too hot or too cool and the development isn’t all we hope for during the growing season.

    Basically wine has two types of acid: malic acid and lactic acid. Well you start with malic and in order to soften this sharp acidity the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation. The malic acid (think tart green apple) converts to lactic acid (dairy or butter essence) and makes the wine easier to swallow. The process is called malolactic fermentation by the way. All red wines undergo this conversion and some white wines do as well, like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It all depends on the style the winemaker would like to achieve. And sometimes the decision to add more acid comes into play, depending on the inclination to higher or lower acidity. This year I am hanging my wine tasting hat on high acid white wines-so refreshing and crisp! A splash of Sauvignon Blanc in my Dino please.

    Sauvignon Blanc and a close-to-harvest shot from a previous vintage. We're not there yet but getting very close to picking the 2015 vintage!

    Sauvignon Blanc grape bunch

  • Varietally Speaking: Sauvignon Blanc

    May 15, 2015 12:43

    In honor of the focus on varietals we grow, today I’ll talk about Sauvignon Blanc. It is the only white wine varietal we have planted on our vineyards and is the white wine counterpart to Zinfandel as the signature wine of Dry Creek Valley. For comparison’s sake here are the numbers: 2700 acres planted in Sonoma County, it is the most popular white varietal in Dry Creek Valley, with an estimated 1100 acres planted. We have 7 acres planted on the valley floor where the sedimentary soils and balance of warm days and cool nights create near perfect conditions for making great Sauvignon Blanc. Located down on the east side of Dry Creek, we farm two blocks where the vineyard crew takes special care during the growing season to tuck and cover the ripening fruit-this process is almost as important as where it is planted and what type of microclimate we have there. Tucking the shoots back makes way for sunshine to do its part in ripening up the grapes. As farmers, we always want the best of both worlds: sun and shade. Leaves are a very important part of this cycle as they provide the much-needed cover for the grape bunches as they go through the season. Not enough shade, and the grapes become raisins in due time, too much shade and the wine takes on green flavors. Tuck and cover is an apt description for this vineyard process. As I like to say the wine reflects this pattern: it ripens on the vine, makes a stop at the fermentation tank and bottled shortly after harvest capturing tropical fruit and citrus aromas and flavors finishing with crisp acidity. Cheers, I’ll have some in my Dino.

    East Side Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

    Sauvignon Blanc grape bunch