Monday, December 29, 2014

Pruning time!

I know I have written previously about the pruning process in a fair amount of detail, so there isn't much to add here except that I have just completed all the pruning for this season and the vines are now ready to go for next season.  I am always amazed by the sheer volume of shoots produced by the vines and how many cuttings I have to burn every year.  I get plenty of use out of my burn barrel.  Now I'm anxiously awaiting spring, warm weather and the next vintage!  Every year I learn a few new things and get a little better at growing grapes and making wine.  It's exciting, humbling, and a constant source of both wonder and stress!  A vineyard is an absolutely astonishing amount of work and you are at odds with critters and weather for 3/4 of the year!  Fortunately, the winter is a time of low stress.  The vines are pruned and dormant.  They will be fine until I have to start worrying again--about things like frost after budbreak, rain during flowering, fruit set, birds, yellowjackets, nets, hail, rain, and harvest.  Oh well, it's all part of the adventure!


The burn barrel is consuming all the cuttings.

"Le Grand Oiseau" from the west end.  Pruning almost done.

A pruned vine ready for spring.

The oldest vines (from 2009) are getting thick!

Marquette is tricky...or at least mine is!

With harvest numbers around 23 brix and a pH of 3.3 on my Marquette, I was worried about the fruit not being ripe enough.  Well, after fermentation and MLF with VP41, my post-ferment pH rose to an astonishing 3.8!  Unfortunately, I neglected to measure the pH between the alcoholic fermentation and the MLF.  So either a lot of potassium came out of the skins during primary fermentation or there's a ton of malic acid in the grapes that turned into lactic during MLF.  Either way, this is the second year that I have seen such a substantial rise in the pH during vinification with my Marquette.  (Never seen this with other varieties).  I ended up having to add some tartaric acid to allow the wine to be stabilized with a reasonable dose of meta.  I brought it down to 3.7 (any lower and the tartaric really impacts flavor).  Who would have thought that harvesting at a pH of 3.3 was too ripe?  I have asked my friend David Neilson, winemaker and owner of Coastal Vineyards about this issue and he has never seen this in his Marquette. Anyone got any ideas?

So right now I have 17 gallons of wine, my first decent batch of Marquette.  Half is in my barrel and the other half in glass.  I'll swap them out after 3 months in oak.  (My small barrel over-oaks a wine easily if you aren't careful).  So far, taste testing shows that my Marquette is pretty low on tannins, a lot like Pinot Noir.  This is definitely not a Cab or Zin-like wine.  It has good color, and a cherry-like aroma.  I'm concerned about the pH though, the taste is a little flabby and bland. Hoping it comes around a little in barrel.