Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Riesling Fermentation Curve

The basement at the Shier provides a perfect environment.  With steady cool temperatures, the juice undegoes primary fermentation over three weeks.  The chopiness in the brix curve (the green) is most likely small measurement error as opposed to variation.  The temperature variations may be a result of overshoot and undershoot on the temperature controller.  A flat temperature line and a long slow sloping brix curve are best for Riesling.  I racked the wine to carboys on Sunday.  The brix is 1.77 and the taste is intense.  It's been a good year for Riesling.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to the Finger Lakes

We made a trip out to Keuka Lake on Saturday.  I picked up 16 gallons of Riesling juice and 5 gallons of Concord.  The Riesling looks perfect this year, with a hint of noble rot.  Brix is 23.5, so no need to add sugar. 

The Concord was fairly inexpensive at only $4.75 a gallon.  I figured I would take a crack at making a better wine than Manischewitz.  The Concord brix was only 16.6, which means it needs a lot of added sugar.  Oh well, Manischewitz doesn't exactly set the bar very high.     

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Year Vines Going Strong

Some northern rays.

A few wires still need to be added.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wired for Training

Bob and I continued to add hard black locust posts to the vineyard.  I ordered the 12 gauge steel wire on the web from Ace Hardware.  We wired the 12 gauge four feet off the ground and the 16 gauge two feet up.  I tied the vines that reach the four foot high wire to the wire using gardening twine.  As of today, fewer than 10 of the 100 vines reach that height.     

The first casualty appears to be vine on the fourth row from the bottom.  When I came up this weekend, all the leaves were brown and wilted.  I cut off the leaves in hopes that something might be salvaged.  We are under drought-like conditions in the Hudson Valley this summer, with very little rain in June and almost none in July.  The plants are also being attacked by the Japanese beetle and fat green leaf-like caterpillars.  I am trying to avoid pesticides this year, but I may have to cave in if the damage gets much worse.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vines On The Hill

We laid black plastic, cutting holes for the vines. Then we added wood chips over the plastic.

It was grueling, but Bob McCrindle and I put in the first posts.  The end posts are nine feet long and buried three feet down.  The center posts are eight feet long and buried two feet down.  We tied a 16 gauge wire across the posts.  The support wires will be 12 gauge galvanized steel.

The vines are growing fast.  This one is almost five feet tall.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

100/100 Riesling Plants Emerge

Three weeks after planting and all the Riesling vines are coming up.  The tallest is already more than a foot high. 

Dog for scale.

Another amazing sunset over the Hudson.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Vineyard or the Next Modern Art Installation at Dia Beacon

We worked through the weekend to plant 100 vines.  It never would have been possible without Bob McCrindle's tractor.  The hill was filled with rocks of varying size and shape, and roots covering every cubic inch of earth.  Now that the vines are in the ground, they must be protected.  We shaped chicken wire fences around each of them. 

Looking up the hill.

 Looking down towards Floyd Ackert Road.

We then added a little mulch to cover the fragile union between the rootstock and the vine.  When the vines start to grow, we'll remove the chicken wire fences and train the vines on a wire trellis that will be anchored by six-foot wooden posts.   

Alicia working in front of the Shier.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Class of 2009

I bottled the first 25 bottles of the 2009 Riesling over the weekend.  This is my first attempt to make the wine as the German winemakers described it to me at the Riesling & Co. Wine Tasting at the Tribeca Rooftop.  I limited my fermentation and post fermentation adjustments to sulphites and chilling.  No fining, no filtering, and no preservatives.  The wine exhibits a more complex, flowery flavor.  It is a tiny bit sweeter than last year, but I would still classify it as semi-dry or dry.  The new bottle color combination is amber and gold. 


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vineyard Planning

The vines are set to arrive on May 5. They must be soaked in water for 24 hours and immediately thereafter planted in one foot of loose soil.  Bob McCrindle has been hard at work clearing the yard.  We will plant by digging a 1 foot deep trench for each row using the tractor.  I've put together a rough layout of how the vines will be arranged on the hillside.  The 100 Riesling grape vines will be composed of 4 clones.

The bottles arrived for the 2009 Riesling. I decided not to risk the whole lot on my "making it the German way" experiment. I added KC Super Kleer to two of the three carboys (one oaked and one unoaked). I will filter these carboys down to 6 microns. The third carboy (also oaked), I placed in the refrigerator. I'm planning to bottle the third carboy German-style, sans fining, filtering, and preservatives. 

I put together a cherrywood wine rack.  Each of these racks will hold 126 bottles.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creating The Vineyard

This map of the Shier shows the vineyard that I am working on.  Our neighbor, Bob McCrindle, is clearing a space with his chainsaw and tractor.  In early May, I will plant 100 Riesling plants grafted to root stock.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shaping Up

A dramatic improvement in the 2009 Riesling vs. the 2008 in terms of color, clarity, and as it turns out from today's testing, acid levels.  The wine is so clear that I am planning to forego the fining process.  Depending on how well cold stabilization goes I should be able to forego adding any potassium sorbate.  And with so little oxidation, I also should be able to avoid adding polyclar.  In other words, I'm making the 2009 with much the same purity as the Riesling from the Moselle Valley.    

The SG measured 1 degree Brix.  Back in October, I started at a Brix of 23, which means a potential alcohol of 13.2%.

I brought out the acid test kit and tested a sample. 

The pH was 3.25 and the total acidity was 0.95 Tartaric.  Acceptable.  Cold stabilization should help.

Alicia and I also gave the wine the most important test.  It is remarkably good.  I am very surprised considering it is only mid-March.  The 2008 wine last year at this time was nowhere near as finished.

I packed the first oaked carboys in ice and put it in the fridge.  It is time to order the bottles. 


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Farm Winery

As spring approaches and the 2008 Riesling drys and clears, I am focusing the winery on the important task of becoming licensed to sell wine. New York has several types of winery licenses. A typical micro winery license requires a yearly license fee in excess of $1,000 and a $10,000 bond. A special farm winery license is available for $175 per year and a $1,000 bond. The key requirements of a New York farm winery license are:

1) Only use New York grown grapes
2) Need to have a farm (no minimum acreage requirement)
3) No more than 150,000 gallons of wine annually

Requirements 1 and 3 have never been a problem for the Shier Winery. Requirement 2 is more complicated. I sought further guidance from the New York Liquor Authority on the minimum requirements for a farm. I never received an answer, but the application instructions are very clear that there are no minimum acreage requirements. I decided to clear a small portion of land and to plant Riesling vines this May. I have reason to believe that the soil is conducive to grape growth because the land on which the Shier stands was a vineyard about 50-100 years ago. The biggest issue will be the limited sunlight with all of the trees on the property. I will need to take down some smaller trees when planting. I ordered 100 Riesling vines mixed among four clones from the nursery at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard in the Finger Lakes. The vineyard is within a few miles of the vineyard where I have been purchasing Riesling grapes on Route 14 in Dundee, New York.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wine Winter

Blackberry pictures are rough, especially when using the flash. Making such a short trip up to the Shier, I forgot the good camera. The wine continues to dry and is now starting to clear. It has a pleasant bouquet, but I will wait until next time to taste.

A not-so-bad picture taken on my Blackberry. View of Newburgh from Beacon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Racking in the New Year

I racked the wine off the sediment on Sunday morning. Many of the oak chips had settled to the bottom of the carboys. There were small crystals on the chips, which looked somewhat like the precipitate of tartaric acid. It was surprising because the carboys were not subjected to freezing temperatures. The temperature on the basement floor was about 51-52F, after slowly dropping from around 57F at the time the wine was placed in the carboys in November. It seems more likely that it could be the precipitate of the potassium bicarbonate that was added to the juice at the vineyard. I will hold off on testing the acidity levels until the next racking about a month from now.