Sunday, March 27, 2011

Planting Traminette

The traminette vines arrived from Double A Vineyards this week. The vines are grafted onto 101-14 rootstock. This rootstock is a good choice for the clay soil in this area.

This weekend I worked on getting the vines planted. The traminette vines are replacing the syrah vines we had previously planted. Half of the syrah vines didn't make it through last winter, and it just didn't seem to be the best varietal for this area. The first step was to cut all the wires in the row where the Syrah vines were, and remove the drip irrigation hose. Next I dug up all the Syrah vines, saving one for a friend who was interested in trying to transplant it. I rented a tiller and tilled up the soil in the row. It is amazing how many rocks I found. I poured some hydrated lime into the soil to raise the pH and some lava sand to help break up the clay. I then used the tiller to mix all the soil again with the additions. The tiller didn't go all the way down to the root level, but at least the soil above it will allow water and nutrients through a little better.

While I prepared the soil, the vines were placed in a bucket of water for a few hours to hydrate them. I dug holes down to the appropriate depth, with some help from my wife. We then placed the vines into the holes, spreading the roots out as much as possible, and then introduced a teaspoon of Root Maximizer Mycorrhizal fungi around the roots, before filling in the holes with a combination of the dirt from the hole and the surrounding area with the mixture of lava sand in it.

Lastly, I watered each vine with enough water to settle the earth around it. It is supposed to rain over the next few days, so they should get plenty of water to help sustain their first year of growth.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bottling Traminette

The time had finally come to bottle the Traminette. Some of my readers may remember that the Traminette juice was sourced from Walkers Wine Juice. They shipped a five gallon jug of heat-pasteurized Traminette juice from the state of New York. This is my first time working with Walkers, and so far I have been quite pleased.

I have been a little concerned because the color of the wine was a strong yellow. Oxidation is always the enemy of the winemaker. I have battled this by attempting to do regular SO2 additions, and using CO2 or Nitrogen to fill any head-space in my carboys. Something else I am considering is limiting the amount of time I bulk-age wines.

I tasted the Traminette and it tasted fine, though a little on the acidic side. Given the color, I didn't want to spend any additional time trying to undergo a cold-stabilization in order to release the tartaric acid. This might be a mistake, but I have never been one of those people who freak out at wine diamonds (tartaric acid crystals) appearing at the bottom of my bottles.

Because this is a white wine, I decided to sterile filter the wine using the Buon Vino SuperJet. While I was filtering it I could not help but think about how much the wine was getting exposed to oxygen. I finally decided that before I bottle another wine that I would order the filter housing and filters for my Enolomatic. This would allow the wine to be pulled through the filter using a vacuum, and reduces the chance of oxidation.

Overall the bottling of the Traminette took a long time. Not only from all the cleaning that had to be done, but also because there was a lot of CO2 to pull from the wine before I could cork it. After the wine is in the bottle I always use a VacuVin to pull any remaining CO2 from the wine so my corks don't pop out of the bottle. I am theorizing that there was more CO2 trapped because of how chilly the basement has been this winter. That and the fact that I had occasionally used a CO2 canister to sparge the air out of the head-space in the carboy.

Another issue arose while I was trying to cork the wine. With whites and some fruit wines, I normally use NomaCorc synthetic corks. This time when I was inserting the corks, they were pulled deep into the bottle, no matter how much I adjusted the corker. The only way I could find to solve it was to try and put them in very slowly. Maybe it had something to do with how cold the corks were from being in the basement. Has anyone else experienced this?

I bottled a total of 23 bottles of Traminette - the perfect wine to drink during the Spring and Summer months.