The week goes on and so does the processing and tweaking of the Cinsault. We start our day with our first punchdown of the day and readings of the must. Oscar patrols the vineyards on our way up to the crush pad. Yup, lots of critters have been feasting on the shriveled grape bunches that we threw on the ground during picking. That is judging by the amounts of grape colored poo.
Which brings us to the dilemma of California winemakers versus what the French face. We actually have many more sunny days than France (or our comparable regions: the Rhone or Provence). That longer growing period allows us to bring the fruit to a much greater degree of ripeness than the French can enjoy. You only have until the rainy season to get your grapes ripe. Once it starts to rain, you’ve got to harvest immediately or your harvest is ruined. For us that can be well into November. For the French it’s much earlier. So for us, longer ripening means more sugars, deeper flavors, but also reduced acids since grape acid naturally drops as the grapes ripen. Since acid is what gives the wine staying or aging power, you want to keep acids at the right level. In Northern California, that means adding Tartaric Acid. It’s kind of a dirty little secret. Premium winemakers don’t like to talk about it, but most of them do it. Not that there is anything wrong with Tartaric Acid. It’s the naturally occurring acid in grapes, bananas and tamarinds. It’s been isolated since Persian times with modern isolation practices helped along by Louis Pasteur. It’s just everyone wants the consumer to believe this process all happens naturally.
They’d actually found a nice stand of California Honeysuckle or Lonicera hispidula. Like most California versions of plants, it doesn’t look like what you traditionally think of the type. The flowers were down and the vine had beautiful red berries on it. John says he’s going to try to plant more of it around the trail.
I’m not sure about the aroma as Oscar found a rotted deer carcass and shook it up to get that smell all around.
Since Oscar had to be bathed at this point, I thought I might as well buy him a new collar and tag.