Thursday, September 14, 2006

Career #24: Winemaker

Some of you may have heard me talk about CrushPad, the San Fran outfit that helps you make your own wine. You choose the grapes, you pick the wood for the barrel - basically, you work with their winemaker to determine everything throughout the whole process. Check them out at

Well, I just signed up to make a barrel (25 cases!) of pinot noir with some guys from work. The plan (i.e. the only way to get Sarah to support this expense) was that this was going to be the wine for our wedding. Ahhh - how romantic!

Well, our first meeting with the winemaker was this past Saturday. We sat with him for a few hours to discuss things like brix, acidity, crush level, saignee, and cap management. All things that, previously, the people at winery tasting rooms said as I guzzled their latest bottling, not paying attention.

We chose our aging vessel (a 50% new French oak zebra), our target alcohol (14.4 - for a good buzz), our target free SO2 (25-30 ppm, give or take a few ppm), and our aging (9-11 months), and about 50 other things. At that point, something clicked. I'm no math major (in Engineering school, we quickly lost numbers and went to all letters, derivatives, functions, and LaGrangians...), but I was able to use my fingers to see that from September 9th to June 23rd was a bit less than required by the winemaking process. And, the grapes have yet to be harvested!

Uh oh.

I guess we won't be having my handmade pinot at our wedding... :-(

My proposal - and give me your feedback on this - is to instead roll some of this experience into our wedding day in other ways. What about vows that say, "Sarah, I promise to love you in sickness and in heath, in low pH and in high, through malolactic fermentation and extended maceration..." (I have yet to pass that by Sarah.)

Anyway, these are pictures of our grapes - pinot noir from the Amber Ridge vineyard in Sonoma - still hanging on the vine, taunting me and saying, "I got you in trouble!"

Just think, only 9-11 months + harvesting time + fermentation time + bottling time + whatever else time until we can drink it! Happy New Year 2008!

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