winemaking


The 2012 harvest has come to an end…the fruit picked under stellar conditions, the fermentations completed without a hitch and the wine barreled down for the winter.  Nearly everyone is celebrating Northern California’s “epic” harvest, the biggest in years, including us and we’ve shared some photos of here:

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Harvest came late and fast this year.  Late ripening fruit and forecasted rains early this week led to a mad race to harvest the thinner-skinned varietals (such as Pinot and Chard) early Monday October 3rd before rain could cause any damage.

After a 4 day cold soak and 10 day fermentation (14 days total on the skins,) we pressed the Beresini Vineyard Pinot Noir.  We did one bin native yeast fermentation and one we inoculated with RC212.  We were so happy with the native yeast results that we decided to go all the way native with our last lot of Pinot–Corona Creek.  Early next week we’ll press the Lauterbach Vineyard and Corona Creek Vineyard Pinots.

After much anticipation, we had our first harvest on 9/30. We picked 1.25 tons of Beresini Pinot Noir and proceeded to our first crush. That is the lowest yield we’ve ever got from this one acre.

bottles, capsules and cork samples

bottles, capsules and cork samples

Winemaking is not always about making wine.  There are always less glamorous tasks to be done, like packaging, which we are working on now. Later this summer we will bottle our 2009 vintage and we are lining up packaging details now. This means decisions have to be made on what size, color and nationality the bottle will be. We must choose what type of cork to use and if our logo will be branded on it. Then there is the capsule–what material, color, size do we want? Logo or no logo?  And last, but not least, we must update our label for the 3 different vineyards 2009.

Under my radar, downstairs, Uzi has been busy mixing and matching different colored capsules with various styles of bottles with our 2008 label slapped on to get a visual of what we want to end up with.

During his mix and match process, Uzi put a filled bottle with our 2008 Stomping Girl label, a red capsule and a Stomping Girl branded cork in it on our kitchen counter for me to see.  In an ironic twist of fate, later that same day a sommelier/wine director from a very well-known restaurant coincidentally paid me a surprise visit on an unrelated matter (we were working together on a project for our kids’ school.) He knows we make wine and spontaneously asked if he could try it.  I obliged, of course, after all there was the bottle of it right there in front of us on the counter. Had I followed rule #1 of pouring your wine to trade, I would have tasted it, and I would have known that it was not the 2008 Stomping Girl Lone Oak Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands that was clearly indicated on the label and that I portrayed it to be.

The gentleman gave it a sniff and a whirl.  His feedback was brief as he was in a hurry. He observed cranberries on the nose and the palette and then had to run to an appointment. Cranberries???  I should have known something was up at that point.  Our Lone Oak definitely does not invoke cranberries.  It has a much darker red fruit component.

That night I discovered the wine that had been on the counter, that I had poured for our new friend was not what I thought it was.  Aack!  I had been waiting weeks for the perfect opportunity to pour our wine for this man and I blew it!  How was I to know that a bottle labeled 2008 Stomping Girl Lone Oak Pinot Noir was in fact a bottle of our 2007 basement Pinot? Still a perfectly drinkable Pinot but not our Stomping Girl that retails for $38.

Luckily, we had a nice chuckle over it later and I promised to pour the real Stomping Girl for him next time.  Wonder if he’ll believe me?

passover dinnerYou may be familiar with our story and the inspiration for our name–Stomping Girl–and already know this:  Uzi’s Grandmother Esther grew grapes on their property, his sister Michal took off her shoes and stomped them and Esther turned the grapes into wine.  The wine was primarily for their Passover celebration each year.

Officially, kosher wine is served for Passover.  For a wine to be kosher, there are many rules that must be followed, such as:

  1. The vines on which the grapes are grown must be at least 4 years old and left unharvested every seventh year.
  2. Only kosher, non-animal ingredients may go into the wine (i.e., only certain yeasts may be used and egg white, a common fining ingredient, may not be used.)
  3. Only male, Sabbath-observant Jews are allowed to handle the wine through the entire winemaking process from the harvesting of the grapes, through fermentation, to bottling.
  4. One Percent of the wine must be discarded.
  5. Barrels must cleaned 3 times before use.

The Cohen family Passover wine enjoyed by them every year in Israel was not officially kosher, being that Esther and Michal handled the grapes and the wine.  But it was close enough for Grandmother Esther.

For us here in California, the # 1 rule for Passover wine is that it must taste great.  After all, you are supposed to drink four glass of it every night.  And, though not Sabbath observant, our chief winemaker is Jewish and from Israel…and that makes Stomping Girl Wine pretty close to being kosher.  Passover starts next week, and I bet you know what wine we’ll be serving.

About a year ago, Uzi wrote about the “chore” of topping off.  Back then we only had 2 half barrels in our home cellar and 4 barrels at the winery to worry about.  This year we have 17 barrels at the winery to stir and top.  While we still don’t see it as a chore, it is a bit more work.  They are stacked two high in the back of the barrel room and special maneuvers are required to properly stir the lees and top off the barrel without overflowing.  But it is still a great opportunity to smell and taste the wine and to, for lack of a better word, touch base with the wine…even while it is resting snugly in the barrel.

So earlier this week at the winery, we sniffed, stirred, topped and tasted all 17 barrels of our 2009 Pinot Noir.  Pinot always seems to be evolving, from the moment of harvest all the way to the last drop in your glass.  But at this point in time, we found that our Carneros Pinot has an incredible nose, our Russian River Pinot already has a luscious mouthfeel and luscious flavors and our Sonoma Coast has nice fruit forward character.  Can’t wait to see what we discover next time…

barrel room

in the barrel room

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