I wanted to start the month off with a fabulous post, given that today is the first day of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. So a post that introduces all those new people who will be dropping by to the wonders of Two Terrier Vineyards would be just the thing.

Sorry, that will have to wait. The day devolved into a race through several counties and an exercise in negotiating the worst traffic hold-ups the Bay Area has to offer. Well, at least it was a nice day for a drive.

Not that there wasn’t some wine stuff going on. Today was a day for punchdowns of all the Cabernet we harvested last Thursday, and a day for racking the Mourvedre and Grenache from one steel tank to another. “Why?” you ask. Because dead yeast is still filtering down to the bottom of the tank and when we “rack”, which is a fancy word for stick a hose in one tank and pump the stuff into another, we leave behind a few inches of wine and lots of sediment. Do this several more times and you start to get a clarified wine. “And how do you know you are really getting rid of all that nasty dead yeast?” you ask next. Sometimes the method is very low tech.

You smell it, taste it, then take it out into the light to check the color. So far, so good.

You smell it, taste it, then take it out into the light to check the color. So far, so good.

Then again, sometimes you have to trot out all that fun equipment.

This crazy thing measures the level of sulfites in the wine. Yes, I know we are doing this organically, but you have to add some sulfite at certain stages of the process and for sterilization of stirrers and things you stick into the wine vats.

This crazy thing measures the level of sulfites in the wine. Yes, I know we are doing this organically, but you have to add some sulfite at certain stages of the process and for sterilization of stirrers and things you stick into the wine.

Looks like our Grenache and Mourvedre are registering very low on the scale. Here are the results in ppm or parts per million.

How low is that? Well, humans are not supposed to be able to detect, nor be affected by sulfites in lower doses than 200 ppm. (Affect as in that headache you get from cheap wine.) So you can see were well below that threshold.

How low is that? Well, humans are not supposed to be able to detect, nor be affected by sulfites in lower doses than 200 ppm. (Affect as in that headache you get from cheap wine.) So you can see we're well below that threshold.

Don’t quiz me any more on this subject. I’ll have to get Andy to write a science-y guest post. I handle the more fun and less exacting work like punchdown. Or adding yeast.

Here, Im activating yeast in a bucket prior to adding it to the Cabernet. Looks like chocolate milk!

Here, I'm activating yeast in a bucket prior to adding it to the Cabernet. Looks like chocolate milk!

Yes, you can let it all ferment naturally. And that’s what Cousin John is doing with his share of the Cabernet. But here’s the risk you run: there is yeast everywhere, on your skin, in the air. Who knows if you’ll get the fermentation results you want. Better to add a small bit of sulfite to kill the surface yeast, then add a good old UC Davis formulated yeast to the mix. It’s reliable, it’s consistent and it’s fun to mix up in a bucket and add to the vats. That’s called “pitching the yeast”.

And that was all the winemaking for me today. I was in the car, out of Sonoma County, up through Napa County and into Lake County to collect my mother for an appointment she has down this way. Hey, here’s lovely shot of Napa, specifically the Mayacamas Range.

We shall gloss over the fact that I got this neat picture because we were stranded on Mount St. Helena as we waited for emergency vehicles to tow a wreck off the two lane mountain road.

We shall gloss over the fact that I got this neat picture because we were stranded on Mount St. Helena for an hour as we waited for emergency vehicles to tow a wreck off the two lane mountain road.

The hills above Calistoga have such wonderful formations, thanks to thousands of years of earthquakes and volcanos.

The hills above Calistoga have such wonderful formations, thanks to thousands of years of earthquakes and volcanos.

Then you head toward the valley floor and you see scenes like this lovely terraced Tuscan style winery.

Then you head toward the valley floor and you see scenes like this lovely terraced Tuscan style winery.

Then home again, home again jiggety jig. Well, not really. Once we got into Napa Valley on the Silverado Trail, we poodled along behind trucks pulling winery equipment out of the fields (just about everything has been picked now except for Late Harvest Zinfandel).

And just in time for the big back up at the Golden Gate caused by the Oakland Bay Bridge being out of commission.

And just in time for the big back up at the Golden Gate caused by the Oakland Bay Bridge being out of commission.

Tomorrow we’ll see what San Mateo County has in store for me as I head down to Stanford.

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