Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vineyard Work

What goes on in the vineyard in the early summer? Lots! Grape vines are not creepers. They start running up and along the wires much faster than workers can keep up! This picture shows Kathryn selecting one shoot to tie up on the bamboo pole. The vines are our second year Cabernet Sauvignon. They will be trained up the pole and along the wire. Unfortunately, second year grapes are too young to crop. We will have to wait until next year to make Cab. wine. Patience in a virtue for grape growers. I am learning.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Making wine fills me with anxious expectations, but even more so the making of sparkling wine. First there's the task of making a sound base wine, in this case a Chardonnay with grapes from Cochise County. Then the yeast has to be "build up", meaning getting it used to living in a high alcohol environment. A measured amount of sugar is added to the base wine (4 grams per liter for each desired atmosphere of pressure) and the built up yeast is pitched to the wine. I always wait overnight to make sure there is some fermentation action, then the sugary, yeasty, base wine is bottled in champagne bottles and sealed with a crown cap. Over the next few months the yeast turns the added sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide, but as opposed to primary fermentation, the production of carbon dioxide is the main goal. The tightly capped bottle prevents the gas from escaping and it becomes dissolved in the wine, AKA bubbles. This is the basis of the methode champenoise. It takes the yeast so long because they don't like the high pressure and increasingly high alcohol environment. When they are done and die the chore will be to get them out of the bottle, but that's the other half of the story.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Three days of planting and tending the growing second leaf cabernet sauvignon was exhausting. Partly it's the up and down all day long, but I'm sure it's also these aged bodies protesting. One reward of long days at the vineyard are the quiet evenings Joan and I get to spend on the winery porch. The wine tasting traffic stops, the wind almost always dies down and the birds and other animals do their end of the day thing. But nothing is quite as spectacular as the sun setting behind the Santa Rita mountains.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Re-Planting Week-End

This year Tim and I decided to concentrate on replanting the vines that did not make it over the last few years. Our daughter, Kathryn, her fiance, Casey, and good friend, Nathan all came to help. We planted Syrah, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon in the main vineyard. In the experimental vineyard we replanted some Zinfandel and Riesling. Then we all planted two rows of Gewurztraminer. "Gerwurztraminer in Arizona?" you question. Well, it is an experimental vineyard! We'll see how it grows and report back to you all!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Friday, May 4, 2007


One of the exciting things about the festival was pouring my wine for others to sample. I had prepared myself for the inevitable scrunched noses and "hmmm, that's interesting" comments when people taste a bone dry riesling. Yet I was thrilled with the positive reception I received and even ecstatic when I sold some wine. The Dehner's were my first customers. We are all smiling. Suddenly I could sense the tide had begun to turn and Joan and my "winery project" had become a business. Next on the agenda for when my son Ian visits in May, at least in the wine making arena, is to build up the yeast for a secondary fermentation and bottle the chardonnay that is still in barrels to make sparkling wine. We plan a limited and early release of some of it during the holidays. I'll keep you posted.