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Wine

2017 Harvest Outlook for Suisun Valley, Lodi, and Central Valley

Suisun Valley Harvest Outlook

Everything is maturing along in Suisun Valley. We are seeing verasion come to end in varieties such as Merlot and Sangiovese. Petite Sirah, Cabernet 169, and later varieties are still going through the verasion process. Looking at the maturity level of the grapes harvest should start around September 4th in Suisun Valley – beginning with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The next varieties to pick will most likely be Merlot around September 10th and, Sangiovese, and Malbec around September 16th. The later varieties such as Petite Sirah and Cabernet 169 should harvest around late September/early October.

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Interested in the weather in Suisun Valley? Click here to see what our weather stations are picking up on a daily basis!

 

Lodi Harvest Outlook

Overall the Lodi crop looks great. The rain helped strengthen the deep roots this winter, which allowed the vines to grow a vigorous canopy. The big canopies from the record rain fall has protected the grapes from the summer heat. Therefore, it should be an average to slightly below average crop this year. Most varieties look normal, however Cabernet and Zinfandel look to be low slightly lighter than last year. The Lodi appellation is made up of mostly sandy loam soil and unlike the Central Valley they get constant cooler temps in the evenings. This area experiences 40 degree swings in temps that help with coloring the grapes and the skins are thicker which produce a dark juice high in tannins. This is why the region is famous for its delicious Zinfandels and Italian grape varieties!

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Central Valley Harvest Outlook

With the extra rain fall Central Valley is looking to be a great harvest. The crop looks to be about the same as last year and we should be harvesting about 4-6 days later than last year. We anticipate some of the Central Valley fruit to start shipping to the East Coast around August 28th. Get your crushers ready!!

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We should have an updated harvest report pertaining to Paso Robles, Napa/Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Washington State next week. Keep an eye out for our next email.

There is a lot going on at Musto Wine Grape Company and we are looking forward to seeing you on August 26th for Customer Appreciation Day.

Harvest Kick Off Party - 1pg (2)

Cheers to making your favorite wine!!

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 25 – Why is my wine evaporating?

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! :)

Smoke or vapor coming from a wine glass on black background.

Why is my wine evaporating?

Just like water or any other liquid, with prolonged exposure to air, wine can evaporate. When aging wine in an enclosed container such as a tank, carboy, or demijohn, the container should have an airtight seal via an inflatable gasket or an airlock and bung. This will help prevent against oxidation and will reduce the amount of evaporation dramatically. If you still see some evaporation happening in one of these closed containers, evaluate your bungs and seals as they may not be working properly.

The main source of evaporation in winemaking is through barrel aging. Barrels are a porous environment that allows the wine to “breathe” over time. This “breathing” process is essentially evaporation. The wine is exposed to air through the porous staves and small portions of the wine evaporate into the atmosphere. This has positive effects on the wine as it creates a creamier mouthfeel, can reduce the perception of acidity, and imparts oak flavor. The barrel must be filled monthly with additional wine to reduce the head space and replace the evaporated product. This will prevent the wine in the barrel from oxidizing. While the breathing process may be a source of frustration, as you witness your wine evaporating into thin air, it will help you to create a fuller, heavier, more lush 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.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 21 – Do I need a barrel to make wine? Can I just use tanks/glass?

Collection of wine, rum, beer classical wooden barrels

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! :)

Do I need a barrel to make wine? Can I just use tanks/glass?

american oak chips

Most aspiring winemakers hold romantic visions of putting their wine in a barrel, tasting it periodically with loved ones, waiting until the magical moment it tastes perfect, and is ready to bottle. While there are benefits of barrel aging wines, it is not required to create a dry wine with oak flavors. Juice may be fermented in barrels, tanks, carboys, or pails. While the oak will add certain flavor characteristics and “sacrificial tannins” to the wine during fermentation, the winemaker can add oak dust, chips, or staves to create a similar effect. Furthermore, during the aging process, oak chips, spirals, staves, balls, cubes, etc. can be added to the wine to give it a pleasant oaked flavor. This is ideal for the home winemaker as it is more cost effective and often requires less time than traditional barrel aging. When wine is aged in a barrel, some of the wine evaporates out of the barrel, often referred to as the “angel’s share”. This results in a more concentrated, creamy mouthfeel as well as an oaked flavor. The wine within the barrel must be maintained as the evaporation will cause an air gap in the barrel (headspace), which can promote oxidation.  Spare wine must be kept in a separate container to be used to top off the barrel to minimize this headspace. In summary, barrel can add a beautiful finesse and flavor to your homemade wine, but are not crucial to home winemaking success.

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.

Chilean Wine Grape Update: Arrivals & In Stock

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As of 5/2/2017 the following is in stock…

Juices:
ALL Chilean Varieties
ALL South African Varieties

Grapes:
Malbec
Carmenere
Merlot
Petite Verdot
Syrah

To Arrive 5/5/17….

Juices:
ALL Chilean Varieties

Grapes:
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Carmenere
Pinot Noir
Petite Verdot
Malbec
Merlot
Syrah

Please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877.812.1137 to schedule your pick up!

We are looking forward to working with you this Spring Harvest! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page and Harvest Tracker for more harvest information and upcoming wine classes.

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

“Good day, Grapes looked really good. No mold, clean, juicy. Let set with enzyme for 5 hours. Good press. Tomorrow will measure, adjust and add goodies and pitch yeast.” – We are sold out of the white grapes but still have some reds grapes and white & red juices available Give us a call at the office to secure your order!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Spring Bootcamp with winemaker Frank Renadli! Learn how to make great wine at home in just 5 weeks!

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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 12- Common Winemaking Faults and Flaws

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

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! :)

In this week’s Winemaker’s Think Tank we outline the difference between flaws, faults, and how to identify them.

  • Flaws
    •  Flaws are a mistake made in the winemaking process that leads to a property in the wine that is not characteristic of the varietal
    •  Stylistic Choice vs. Flaw
    •  Imbalance Flaw
      • Acid vs Sugar, Oak Levels, Alcohol Level
    • Visual Flaws
      • Haze, Sediment, Effervescence, TA Crystals, Floaters, Lack of Color Saturation
    • Aroma/Bouquet Flaws
      • Lack of Aroma, Non-varietal aroma, Over-oaking
  • Faults
    • Faults are often a microbial or chemical reaction within the wine in some part of its life that significantly alters a wine, eventually leading to the point of spoilage.
  • Oxidation Faults
    • Acetaldehyde – oxidation of Ethyl Alcohol smells like sherry, or old apples, browning
      • Causes: headspace, low sulfites, poor corks, bacterial contamination
    • Acetic Acid – Vinegar
      • Causes: Acetaldehyde, Acetobacter bacteria react with ethanol, Fruit Flie
    • Ethyl Acetate – Nail Polish Smell
      • Oxidation of Acetaldehyde and Acetic Acid
      • Causes: headspace and bacterial contamination
  • Sulfur Faults
    • Hydrogen Sulfide – Rotten Eggs Smell
      Causes: lack of yeast nutrients, yeast stress, sulfur sprays, yeast bi-product, high temps
    • Sulfur Dioxide – Burnt Match Smell
      Causes: over sulfating, wild yeast
    • Complex Sulfur Faults- Mercaptans, DMS, DES, DMDS, DEDS
      Causes: Hydrogen Sulfide reacting with Ethyl Alcohol
  • Microbial Faults
    • Brettanomyces – Barnyard, Horse Saddle, Antiseptic Ointment, Band-Aids, Bacon, Clove
      • Causes: spoilage yeast cells that are incredibly dangerous and difficult to eliminate. Most often found in contaminated barrels, winery cleanliness, resistant to acid and SO2
    • Geranium Taint – Fresh cut geranium leaves
      • Causes: Reaction of potassium sorbate with Lactic Acid Bacteria in the presence of Ethyl Alcohol
    • Refermentation – Fizzy wine, popped corks
      • Causes: Yeast or microbial fermentation of residual sugar
  • Other Faults
    • Cork Taint – Wet basement, wet old newspaper, mildew
      • Causes: strain of trichloanisole on cork (cork taint); mold that contacts chlorine and wood
    • Heat Damage – Cooked fruit smell, brick red color, similar to oxidation
      • Causes: leaving wine in a hot car, in the sun, etc.

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 7 – Grape Yield

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

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! :)

When it comes to making wine, often there is nothing more exhilarating than sampling the fresh grapes as they come in and selecting the varietals that will best suit your individual winemaking needs. Once you have selected the varietals that you would like to make that season, the most often the next question is “How many grapes will I need to make my desired amount of wine?”. The answer changes slightly depending on the origin of the grapes. South American producers fill their crates with 18lbs of grapes. This typically requires the winemaker to purchase 4 crates (18lbs each) to yield 5 gallons of wine. The same formula roughly applies to South African grapes as well, with their grapes being packed 20lbs per crate. Obviously this will yield the winemaker a bit more juice, but the overall formula is applicable.

Fall harvest from the northern hemisphere gives us slightly different guidelines to follow for estimating yield. North American producers have larger crates, packed 36lbs/crate. On average, each crate yields 2.5 gallons of juice, the winemaker needing two crates per five gallons of desired wine. Seasonal growing conditions apply to the yield as well, rainfall having the most profound effect upon juice yield. Also, premium growing areas where the grapevines grow under stressed conditions, resulting in premium fruit will yield significantly less juice than grapes grown in irrigated fields. We suggest purchasing one additional crate per desired 5 gallons of finished product. The two crates per five gallon rule is a safe assumption when estimating juice yield, as it is more of a conservative estimate of juice yield. We often hear reports of a higher yield rate for certain west coast varietals. Berry size will affect the yield of juice as well. Pinot Noir and Grenache berries are significantly larger than Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah berries, often yielding up to 10% more juice. While a certain level of experience and research can aid in the estimated juice yield from your grapes, the basic rule of 4 crates per 5 gallons for South American/African produce and 2 crates per 5 gallons for North American produce is an easy means of determining how much produce you will need.

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. 

Spring has Sprung – Musto’s Southern Hemisphere Wine Grape & Juice Harvest Update

Hello Winemakers and Welcome to Your Spring Winemaking Update…..

Farmers hands with cluster of grapes, farming and winemaking concept

As the snow melts on the East Coast the Southern Hemisphere is getting into harvest mode. The Spring grapes and juices will be here before you know it! Below we have a mini harvest update for each region outlining all the fresh products offered by Musto Wine Grape Co. this Spring. We’ve also included some yeast suggestions for the more popular varieties.

The prices for the Spring products are here and we are Taking Pre-Orders via email and over the phone. Please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877.812.1137 to place your pre-order.

We are looking forward to working with you this Spring Harvest! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page  and Harvest Tracker for upcoming FREE Wine Classes and other Spring Harvest Updates.

South Africa
Breede river Valley (2)Arriving: End of March

Grape Varieties: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon

Juice Varieties: Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc

Vineyard Information: Pinotage will be arriving from the Breede River Valley and Cabernet will be arriving from Stellenbosch. Read more about the Pinotage here, and click here for more information about the Cabernet

Yeast Suggestions:

  • Pinotage: BM4x4: A very reliable yeast. It helps increase color and palate length or D80: Increases mouthfeel and tannin integration
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.

Argentina
malbec vineyard_18 brixArriving: End of April

Grape Varieties: Malbec

Vineyard Information: The first Cantinian vineyard was planted in 1923 in Mendoza, Argentina. As of 2012, the wine grapes grown in the Cantinian vineyards were certified organic by Argencert (in conjunction with the USDA Organic Certification) and accredited by Global Program IFOAM. The vineyards are situation on elevated terrain with views of the Andes Mountains. Read more about the Argentina Malbec here

Yeast Suggestions:

  • Malbec: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.

 

 

 

 

Chile
Musto Wine Grape_Chile_1 (6)Arriving: End of April, beginning of May

Grapes Varieties: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier

Juice Varieties: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet/Merlot Blend, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier

Fresco Juice Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay/Semillon Blend

Vineyard Information: The growing season for the Curico and Colchagua Valley’s was a hot and dry one. Expect wines with great character, intense flavors, complexity, and distinction. We should be receiving grapes around the same time as last year, maybe a little earlier for the whites. Read more here for more information on the Chilean Harvest.

Yeast Suggestions:

  •  Cabernet: CSM – New Yeast Coming to Musto Wine Grape in the Spring!, Keep an eye for a blog post about in on Thursday’s Winemaker Think Tank!
  •  Malbec: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.
  • Carmenere: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice or BDX: Promotes soft tannins, secures color, and ferments at low heat.
  • Chardonnay: QA23: Promotes apple and pear notes or VIN13: Heightens pineapple and tropical notes
  • Sauvignon Blanc: R2: Promotes fruity and floral notes or 71B: Brings out grapefruit notes and other tropical fruits or QA23: Promotes apple and pear notes or VIN13: Heightens pineapple and tropical notes

So pour yourself a glass of wine and give us a call or shoot us an email to secure your Pre-Order Today! 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 6 – Do I Add Yeast to My Wine?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

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! :)

Do I Add Yeast to My Wine?

Some winemakers prefer what is called a “natural method” of fermentation, by allowing the yeast that live on the grape skins to ferment the must into wine. While these yeast can start the process of fermentation, they generally have too low of a population and alcohol tolerance to successfully finish the fermentation process. The most successful fermentations are conducted with lab cultured yeast cells. This is not to say that this method isn’t natural as well. Scientists travel to famous wine growing regions to obtain samples of the natural yeast flora that exist in those environments. They take these samples back to the lab and culture them, breeding select and healthy populations that can be packed and sold to winemakers all over the world. These selected yeast strains have a higher alcohol tolerance and have had the benefit of many trials and research conducted on their behalf to see exactly how they affect a wine. By using these strains you will not only have a more successful fermentation, but also more predictable results rather than the unpredictable results of the wild flora “natural yeast” that live on the skins. Through their research, scientists have found that certain yeasts promote certain attributes of the wine such as color security, fruit characters, spice flavors, and acid reduction. A vintner may select one of these commercially bred strains to get the desired effect they would like in their end 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 3 – What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

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! :)

What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Most wines will benefit from some form of bulk aging. Young wine tends to be a bit harsh, raw, and green and it needs some time to settle and round-out. Many wines, especially reds, will get better if aged in oak barrels. Oak barrels will impart unique flavors in wine and will also create subtle chemical changes over time. From vanilla and tobacco to tea and spice, different types of oak barrels will impart different flavors in the wine. However, all natural oak barrels will allow for micro-oxidation to take place – leading to reduced astringency, better color, structure, stability, and tannin integration, and a richer, more complex flavor and mouthfeel.

Yet as is true in most instances, better wine requires more work – and barrel care, maintenance, and ageing is no exception. Detailed instructions on how to inspect, swell, care for, and maintain an oak barrel can be found in our handy .pdf file here –> Barrel Care PDF. Once you have the basics down, we will go over some common questions about the aging process – starting with, “How long should I age my wine in a barrel and what styles are best for barrel ageing?”

The length of time a vintner ages their wine in a barrel depends on several factors. Is the barrel new or has it been used before? How large is the barrel? What style of wine is going into the barrel? New barrels will impart more flavors than used one will. A rule of thumb is that after a single use the oak extraction of a barrel will decrease by 50%. After the second use it will decrease by another 25%, and once the barrel has been used four times it is usually neutral – meaning it will not impart any oak characteristics into the wine.
Barrel size is also an important factor when determining how long to age your wine. Smaller barrels will impart oak flavors much more quickly than larger barrels. For example, while a 59 gallon barrel will hold nearly ten times the volume of wine as a 6 gal barrel, its surface area is only about twice as much. This means that the wine in smaller barrels has significantly more contact with the wood than wine stored in larger barrels and can be oaked five times more quickly.

Lastly, different varietals and styles of wine will require different aging times. A Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend, for example, can usually be aged 1-3 years in oak. A New World-style Pinot Noir, however, probably shouldn’t be in a barrel for longer than 10 months. A buttery, creamy Chardonnay needs to be checked often while the ultra-tannic Nebbiola can stay in oak for over four years. However, remember that not all wines will benefit from barrel aging. Most German whites such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling rarely receive the oak treatment. Also, Beaujelea nouveau and many cold-hearty hybrids made in this style are often aged in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels.

So finally we can address the question on how long to age your wine in an oak barrel. The answer is up to the winemaker. Remember that winemaking is an art – and each artist will have their own inspirations and palates. My advice is to taste and to taste often. If using smaller barrels (less than 30 gallons), I would be topping off and tasting every month until the oak profile is where I want it to be. Larger barrels will take much longer to impart oak flavors, but still have to be topped-off monthly, so why not take a taste while adding wine to the barrel? Please note that it is much easier to add oak flavor to a wine than it is to remove it, so I recommend erring on the side of caution.

What about the wine going into the barrel? Should it be racked or filtered beforehand? In most cases your wine should be racked and stabilized before going into a barrel for bulk aging. For reds this means making sure your primary and malolactic fermentations are finished, the wine has been racked off its lees (we advise at least 2 rackings – once after primary fermentation, and then again as it is being transferred to the barrel), and it has been properly sulfited. Filtering your wine before it goes into a barrel may be a bit of an overkill, but one of our winemakers uses a course filtration before bulk aging and his wines are exceptional. However, there are unique winemaking techniques used by different vintners for certain styles. For example, in sur lie aging white wine is aged on its fine lees for an extended period of time. Obviously you would not want to rack or filter wines made in this style before starting the bulk aging process. Yet in most instances a wine should be clean and stable before going into a barrel. Additionally, the winemaker should not have to rack wine once it is in oak– save that step for when the wine leaves the barrel.

While aging wine in a barrel can seem like a daunting process, in most cases it is worth the extra effort. Just remember to taste often to avoid over-oaking, make sure the barrels are topped-off monthly, properly manage your S02 levels, and be patient – it will be time well spent.

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.