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.