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Verasion in Chile, or as the Chileans call it, “Enverno”

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The Chilean harvest is starting soon. Verasion, or as the Chileans call it, “Enverno,” began in some wine grape varieties around January 25th and most of the grapes are currently around 15 Brix. We should be seeing white grapes start to arrive around the last week in April, and red grapes start to arrive around the second or third week in May. We will be sourcing grapes from Curcio and Colchagua valleys this year.
The Curico Valley, known as the “Heart of the Chilean wine industry,” and will produce some intense grapes this year. One of the steps that were put into place when cultivating this year’s crop was the pruning the vines later in order to delay the plants from maturing. Our growers started pruning Chardonnay around October 1st and Cabernet Sauvignon around September 20th. This was done to help reduce the risks associated with seasonal frosts and this tactic definitely paid off as the grapes look excellent.  The Colchagua Valley is known for hearty red wines, such as Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. It is located 100 miles south of Santiago, and is an ideal growing region for bold grapes. A little cooler than Curico Valley, but it still remains a Mediterranean climate. A great place for growing intense wine grapes that make complex and palate pleasing wines.
The crop this year looks to be of normal tonnage, but with a tighter marketplace developing around Chilean wines, grapes are tighter than previous years. Additionally, the growing season was a bit cooler than normal and harvest is expected to be about 10 days behind last year. This year’s growing season should produce some intense and complex wines.

Winemaker Spotlight Interview with Manuela Astaburuaga

Christina, Sebastian, Patrick, Manuella in vineyard

Winemaker Spotlight Interview with Manuela Astaburuaga

How did you get started winemaking? 

I’m the 5th generation viticulturist in my family so I was born between tanks and vineyards. When we were kids we played hide and seek in the tanks of the winery and we rode a bicycle among the vineyards.

When I finished the school, I decided to study Agriculture because I love the nature and live in the countryside, then in my last year of university I went to Australia to do my first vintage and I loved it. After I started to work with my family and I decided to go to France to do a Master in viticulture and Oenology.

What I love the most about Oenology is that most of the time there is a family tradition behind it. In my case my father founded the company Viña Correa Albano in 1991 but my grandfather, great grandfather, … also had their own winery Viña Astaburuaga.

Who were your wine mentors? 

My mentors where my father and grandfather. My grandfather was one of the first to broker of wine in Chile and one of the first to export wines. We also have photos of the first exportation where you can see the boats with tanks full of wines.

I really don’t pay attention to the winemakers. I love to taste different wines from different wineries, valleys and countries, but I never pay attention who was the winemaker, for me is a team job.

What do you look for when you make wine? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

The most important thing is have good quality grapes. A healthy grape, free of disease, means we can start making a good wine.

In white wines the expression of aromas and acidity is really important, so we try to have long fermentations at low temperature.

In reds, the wine aging is the most important for me. It is necessary to have the micro oxygenation to soften the tannins and it is very important to limit the oxidation to preserve the fruity aromas that come from the grape.

What is the most difficult aspect of making wine? What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?

The first thing is to have good quality grapes, for that we have to work all year.

In viticulture/oenology we say that we never have two equal years so for me the biggest challenge is to know how to react quickly in different situations as a rain or excessive heat for example can cause challenges.

What bottles of wine in your cellar are you most excited about? 

A few weeks ago, we were sorting out and we found samples of our first exportation of wine. We opened a bottle and it was really good so now that we found the bottles we take care of them the most. Also, I have a box of 12 bottles of my grandfather’s wine from my year of birth that he gave to my parents at my baptism and I’m waiting for a special occasion to open it.

I don’t have any favorite wines but for me the history behind the wine is very important, we cannot compare a big Chateau of Bordeaux with unlimited means with a small producer with all the adversities of nature.

In general, I enjoy more a wine from a small producer with a tradition behind them, than a wine from a big winery.

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What’s your philosophy on Oak and Wine?

For me the most important is oxygen in aging the wine, the barrels have porosity so they give a micro-oxygenation to the wine which is very important to the complexity and the maturation of tannins.

I use barrels, but I always try to not exaggerate because I prefer to preserve the fruity aromas over those gave from the oak.

Are you filtering your wines?

Yes and no. We have a tangential filter which is very good in preserving the quality. For our premium line, which has a minimum of 8 months in the barrel we will not filter.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

We are thinking about implementing the pulsair system in our winery, so we don’t have to us the remontage method and limit the oxidation.

What’s been your greatest challenge as a winemaker?

The generational change.

Any advice for a new home winemaker? 

Have patience. We cannot rush the aging and to have complexity, sucrosity and soft tannins are important and take time.

Also, you have to have in mind that the oxygen can be the best friend or the worst enemy in the aging. Is important to have micro-oxygenation to help the maturity of wine but if it is not controlled, he can oxidize some components and be harmful to the final quality.

If you had to pick one wine to drink for the rest of your life what would it be?

I cannot pick only one wine, for me the wine depends the occasion and is important to change and try different wines.

What’s your favorite wine region?

I don’t have a favorite region but I loved the whites of Alsace and the Cabernet Franc of Saumur Champigny.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am shy and I have a very bad memory, that’s why I can never remember the names of the winemakers and wineries I have tasted (that’s why I always write my tasting notes).

If you weren’t making wine what would you be doing?

I really have no idea!

 

Wine and Cheese Pairings for National Cheese Lover’s Day – January 20th

National Cheese Lovers Day – January 20th

national cheese lovers day

When enjoying a nice glass of your favorite wine, the quintessential pairing is often a lovely piece of cheese and some bread or crackers. But with so many wines and so many types of cheese, how do you select the right ones to pair? Here are some tried and true classics that are always a tasty and satisfying match.

Chèvre (soft goat cheese) – Goat cheese is smooth and creamy in texture with very fine grained mouth feel. Its tart finish with notes of herbs and grass are an excellent match with similarly flavored wines such as French Sancerre, Californian Sauvignon Blanc, Alsatian or North American Pinot Gris, and dry Provencal Roses.

Smoked Gouda – Smoked Gouda is a firm cheese, creamy in texture, with a subtle to overt smoky flavor, depending on the level of smoking. This cheese is incredibly creamy with a more delicate, less sharp flavor than cheddar. This cheese pairs well with wines with a bold smoky element or rich tannins to cut the creamy fattiness of the cheese. Candidates for interesting pairings are Oaked Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere.

Blue Cheese – Blue cheese can come in a variety of forms and consistencies; from the firmer, marbled, and pungent Stilton, to the softer, salty, and creamier Gorgonzola.  Most folks have a love/hate relationship with blue cheeses due to its pungent, tart, earthy, and cultured flavors. If you fall into the enthusiast camp, some superb pairings include Chablis, dry Riesling, Petite Syrah, and dessert wines such as Sauternes and Ports.

Parmesan – More than a mere pasta topping, parmesan is a hard cheese with an exterior rind made of cow’s milk. It can encompass a myriad of flavors, largely due to the feed of the contributing cows. Flavors include a mild grassy character, fruitiness, nuttiness, and a bit of sharp character. Excellent pairings with parmesan are Chianti Classico, Zinfandel, Sherries, and red wine blends.

Cheddar – An American classic, Cheddar has become one of the most popular varieties of cheese in the US.  Cheddar can come in either white or yellow colors; subtle differences made by the feed of the cows and the major color difference made by the addition of annatto coloring pigmentation. Cheddar is a firm cheese, salty, savory and sharp in flavor. Cheddar can be aged to increase this sharpness, creating a more firm yet brittle texture.               Cheddar pairs well with bold and fruity reds such as Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah, and Grenache.

Brie – Brie is soft to semi soft cheese, typically formed into wheels and aged, forming a bloomy rind that is rich in flavor and that will encompass the softer interior.  Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, brie can encompass many interesting flavors from both the diet of the cow and the bloom which creates the rind. The microorganisms in the bloom can generate buttery, briny, or grassy characters. Gewürztraminer’s complex floral, herbal and grassy notes are a complex and wonderful pairing with brie cheese along with dry roses, Rkatsiteli, Pinot Grigio, and Vermentino.

Mozzarella – It may be difficult to find a person who doesn’t enjoy the creamy, mild and soft mozzarella cheese. This cheese can come in a variety of forms: from firm mozzarella that can be shredded or smoked, to the soft fresh mozzarella so many of us enjoy with fresh tomatoes in the summer. Mozzarella is very smooth and creamy, subtle soft nutty and grassy flavors, and a wonderful ability to melt into a cheesy net of delicious flavor. Often seen as a staple ingredient of Italian cuisine, it is only natural to pair this popular cheese with Italian wines. When enjoying the mozzarella on its own, try it with crisp Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, or Tocai Fruiliano.  If enjoying mozzarella as an ingredient in a traditional Italian dish such as caprese salad, eggplant parmesan, or in lasagna, pair with a fruit forward and tannic red such as Sangiovese based blends or Cabernet Franc.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 38 – “So my wine is done fermenting, when do I rack it?”

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?
Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

Crushed grape must being pumped into vats.

So my wine is done fermenting, when do I rack it?

After fermentation, the next immediate step is to remove the new wine from its lees, which is the sediment left behind after fermentation.  The lees contain dead yeast cells, grape particulates, and maybe even a few fruit flies that could lead to the development of some unpleasant aromas in the wine if not removed. Hydrogen sulfide can be produced from the lees if left in with the new wine. The first racking should be done within a week after fermentation is complete, the sooner the better. The wine should be racked into a sanitized container, with the wine filling the vessel completely, leaving a very little amount of headspace. In a carboy, the wine should go up to the neck of the carboy. After the first racking, the wine should be stored in a cool place. If the wine has been inoculated with Malo-lactic cultures, secondary fermentation will continue after the racking as the bacteria will travel over with the new wine into the new vessel. If the wine is going through MLF, do not add sulfites until this fermentation has been completed. If the wine is not going through MLF, then add a ¼ tsp of potassium metabisulfite per 5 gallons of wine to help preserve the wine. Rack every two months to continue clarifying and purifying the wine. Be sure to add sulfites each time that you rack.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

2017 Wine Competition Results

Good Morning Winemakers,

The results are officially here! Click the link below to access the 2017 MWG Wine Competition Results.

2017 MWG Competition Results

Our Wine Competition Dinner will be held Saturday January 27th at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn. Click here to purchase your tickets. Best in show will be announced at the dinner!

Wine Competition_Dinner photo

 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 37 – “How do I make Rose?”

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?
Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

Many glasses of rose wine at wine tasting. Concept of rose wine and variety. White background. Top view, flat lay design. Natural light.

How do I make Rose?

There are a few different approaches to making rose wines. The most traditional way is to crush red grapes, leave the juice in contact with the skins for a limited amount of time, then press off the juice rather quickly (within a few hours) to yield a deep pink colored juice. Once this juice is fermented, it will yield a rose wine. The best grapes to use for this type of production would be any red varietal with a higher acidity. Early picked red grapes or a very fruit forward varietal tend to make the best roses. Some varietals that we have worked with successfully to make beautiful roses are Barbera, Grenache, Gamay, Chambourcin, and Pinot Noir.

Another approach would be to take a white wine and to add a small portion of red wine to it, predominantly for body and color. A very small amount of red wine will provide adequate color to change a white wine into a rose color. A small amount of prep work needs to be done before the blend is created. If the red wine was put through malolactic fermentation, the MLF must be complete before the wine is added into the white wine. If the red wine has not completed MLF, it cannot be used to blend as the bacteria will begin to metabolize the malic acid within the white wine. To prevent this, first make sure that the wine has completed MLF, then add Lysozyme to prevent the further proliferation of bacteria. It is always imperative to make sure that the wines have also been adequately sulfited prior to blending as well. It is very important to do bench trials of the blends before the addition of the red wine to ensure the desired results. A small amount (5-10%) of the red wine will add a nice touch of color and body to a white wine, creating a beautifully blended rose.

 

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 36 – “If I want to make a blend, do I mix the grapes together when I crush, or ferment them separately and blend later?”

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?
Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

Grapes are crushed by hand

If I want to make a blend, do I mix the grapes together when I crush, or ferment them separately and blend later?

There are many approaches to creating a blended wine and the chosen path is directly influenced by the desired end result. Blending at crush is often referred to as a field blend. The winemaker may choose to blend at crush when 80% of the blend is one grape. Using cabernet sauvignon as an example, a winemaker may add in a crate or two of Petite Syrah or Petite Verdot to enhance the dark color of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaker may choose to add a crate or two of Cabernet Franc to enhance the spiciness and perceived acidity of the wine. Adding a small amount of a different grape to the larger percentage of the dominant grape in a blend will change the wine subtly, enhancing an aspect of the original grape that may be lacking such as color or acidity.

If the winemaker would prefer to have greater and much more finite control over the flavors in the resulting blend, fermenting each varietal individually would be more advantageous. Different yeast strains may be used on different varietals to enhance specific varietal characters. After a period of separate bulk aging, the wine maker can make different sample blends to determine the final blend of the wines they desire. Perhaps the entire quantity of a varietal will not be needed for the blend or perhaps only small additions of one varietal to another will be necessary to create a balanced final product. The winemaker can create more than one blend with a few separately vinified wines as changing the varietal percentages can greatly affect the final product.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 35 – How do I know if fermentation is complete?

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

The process of making wine in a winery in south africa

How do I know if fermentation is complete?

It is often easy to see visual signs of fermentation:  from activity in the airlock, bubbles, and the formation of a cap to the aromas of yeast and carbon dioxide, the wonders of fermentation are succinct observation.  But how does the home winemaker know when the fermentation is complete? The simplest way of seeing if fermentation is complete is to taste the wine and observe if there is any sweetness to it. If there is still sugar that you can taste, the yeast have not yet completed their job. The most accurate and scientific way of seeing if fermentation is complete is to take a measurement of the Brix via a hydrometer. A hydrometer is a glass instrument that reads sugar content via the hydrometers buoyancy in wine juice. The juice sample should always be placed into a sanitary, cylindrical shaped vessel. As the wine ferments, yeast consumer sugar and excrete alcohol, making a thinner, less dense liquid. At the beginning of fermentation, the hydrometer will not sink very far into the wine. The sugars within the juice make it thicker and the hydrometer will float on top of the juice. As fermentation progresses the new wine becomes less dense and sugary, allowing the hydrometer to sink down into the liquid. When the fermentation is complete, the hydrometer will sink down into the liquid to the 0 mark, if not farther. When reading the hydrometer, spin it slightly in the cylinder to dislodge any bubbles that may cling to the sides of the hydrometer. Observe where the meniscus of the wine falls on the gradients of the hydrometer. This will give you your sugar level in degrees Brix of the fermenting wine. When the hydrometer sinks to zero or below, the fermentation is complete and you can rack the wine.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

In stock as of 10/18/17 at 8:48AM

suisun petite sirah

JUICES:

  • California – ALL Varieties in Stock
  • Italian – ALL Varieties in Stock
  • Fresco – Call Ahead – arriving daily

GRAPES

  • Cabernet
    • Chalk Hill
    • Central Valley
  • Petite Sirah
    • Lanza/Suisun Valley
    • Lodi
  • Aglianico
    • Contra Costa
  • Malbec
    • Lodi
  • Sangiovese
    • Amador
    • Central Valley
  • Zinfandel
    • Amador
    • Cry Baby
    • Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi
  • Merlot
    • Paso Robles
    • Central Valley
    • Washington State
    • Lodi
  • Nero D’Avola
    • Contra Costa
  • Montelpulciano
    • Contra Costa
  • Petite Verdot
    • Lodi
  • Muscat
    • Lanza/Suisun Valley
    • Central Valley
    • Lodi
  • Cabernet Franc
    • Paso Robles
  • Barbera
    • Central Valley
  • Alicante
    • Central Valley
    • Lodi
    • Ancient Vine
  • Thompson Seedless
    • Central Valley
  • Sagrantino
    • Contra Costa

The Italians have arrived!!

Our Italian Wine Grape Clones has finally arrived from Contra Costa. Located below Suisun Bay and East of the Oakland Hills, Contra Costa is the premier growing area for Italian varietal wine grapes. Many of the vines grown in this area are considered ancient. The Mediterranean climate produces wines with bold features and good color. The soil is deep and sandy, making the grapes fight for their water, only increasing the intensity of the fruit. Think big bold reds, with leathery notes, and supple tannins. Quantities are limited, make sure to call ahead so we can secure your order. Ciao!

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