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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Anonymous said...


We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Whoami

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

Anonymous said...