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Monday, April 23, 2012

Marking Time

Amazing-  in only 3 weeks
The Third Week since Bud Break

It is only three weeks since bud break at Kitchak Cellars and the vines are really growing rapidly. You can almost watch the vines grow.  It has been in the 80s the last week and we have seen tremendous growth.  Exactly what is expected.  Plenty of water still in the soil, lots of sun and nice warm temperatures.  It should be a great year. The vines are doing well and the frost season is about over. There is only one day in the next 2 weeks (this Thursday) where the temperature is forecast to be under 40 degrees and then only a low of 38 degrees that night.

European Grape Vine Moth - Under Control. We hope.  We received a report today that the European Grape Vine Moth seems under control in the Napa Valley.  Not a single one has been found so far this year in the hundreds of traps that the Commissioner of Agriculture has placed around the valley.  This is very good news about this very serious pest.

The Mallards also like the lake
Lake Cynthia (the small lake of about 15 surface acres on our property) remains full to the brim and we are expecting a bit more rain this week. It is an amazing wildlife sanctuary that serves the added benefit of improving our grapes. Since it is the low point on our property, it helps prevent grape vines and buds from freezing in the spring.  The cold air flows downhill to the lake and the lake warms up the cold air.  The part of any vineyard that is the most dangerous from a frost point of view is the lowest point; and our lowest point is essentially a heat sink.

We have even seen the large mouth bass in the lake building their nests and getting ready to spawn in the shallow water along the edges.

Lake Cynthia is formed by a small dam near the westerly edge of our property and it supports a great array of wild flowers at this time of the year. The photo of California Poppies was taken yesterday, Sunday April 22,

California Poppies
Stirring the Lees. Today is a day to "stir the lees" in our 2011 Vivace' Ermitage Blanc which will be a blend of about 46% Marsanne, 46% Roussanne and 8% Chardonnay. The lees are composed of no longer active yeast and the sediment from the bits of grape pulp that are left when the wine is put in the barrel. Instead of racking the white wine to clarify it (the way we rack red wines), we leave the sediment in the barrel and occasionally stir it up. In doing so, we enhance both the flavors and the mouthfeel of the wine.  Ultimately before bottling we will filter the wine to clarify it.  We always filter both the white wine and the rose style wines before bottling.  But we do not filter the reds. The Marsanne and Roussanne are already blended, 50/50 but we will wait a number of months before we will do the trial blends and decide the exact amount of Chardonnay to use with this blend.  Most likely it will be between 5% and 10% of the final blend.  But that is a way off.  In the meantime, the wine is aging gently in 2 "neutral barrels", barrels that have been used many times, and two new French Oak Barrels.

Back to work in the winery.  Until next time...

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