David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 44
November 1, 1998 to November 7, 1998 
Sunday, November 1, 1998

What can I say! The Raiders won again. I know most of you have learned to dislike AL DAVIS and the Raiders. I  understand Al Davis, but don't know him. Don't hate me for loving the Raiders--I never liked their intimidation's. My favorite players were Stabler and Bilitnekoff. 

Brendan took off Friday afternoon to go to Tahoe and I was left with punching down the Cabs. I am sore--Where is 
Brendan when I need him? I am not sure I explained Punching Down before. It requires brute strength or some finesse if you want to cheat!! When the fermentations start,  the CAP or grape skins float to the top. This cap becomes so thick (6 to 18 inches--someone could walk on the top of the skins during the first days of fermentation). If you make a small hole with your hand or put the Punch Down device at an angle and work slowly, you can make the punching down easier. The ultimate idea is to break up the Cap so that all the skins get exposed to the juice at least twice a day--very hard work. 

Tuesday, November 3, 1998

We have a stuck fermentation still! Brendan's suggestion to restart the Lane Zin did not work. In each of the last 3 years I have had a fermentation that has stopped. That means there is still sugar left in the wine. We want virtually no sugar left. The grapes start fermenting at about 24%--we aim for less than  .1 % sugar or less than one part in 100. Our wines to some of you may seem to have sugar left in them because of natural fruit flavor. We try to preserve fruit by pressing early, going directly into barrel. I have now started to add one of the fermenters back into a newly started zin cab blend from Teldeschi's second crop. We are slowly adding the stuck wine to the hot new fermentation. We are pressing most of our Cabs tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 4, 1998
(By Brendan) 

First of all I would like to vindicate myself.  When Dave said in yesterday's posting that "...Brendan's suggestion to restart the Lane Zin did not work..." what he meant to say was "Thanks to Brendan's brilliant suggestion and skillful action, 2 of the 3 bins that had stuck fermentations went dry and we were able to press them without having to blend them with Cabernet."  We did have to blend 1 of the 3 bins with Cab, but I still think that that's pretty darn good. 

Today we primarily kept busy pressing wine. We pressed 2 tons of Lane Zinfandel (the Zin that was Un-Stuck), 2 Tons of Teldeschi Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1 Ton of a blend of  Teldeschi Cab/Simpson Cab. I find it interesting how different some of the wines smell as they are being pressed. I can tell in an instant whether we are pressing off our Zin or our Cabernet just by aromas that come out of the press. 

On a more negative side, Dave an I are faced with an arch nemesis (much like Batman and Robin against the Riddler).  Our evil foe is a recurring leak in the press. We just managed to get the final grapes of the day pressed before our previous patch-job failed. We still have 10 tons of grapes to press in the next couple of days and we REALLY need the press. 

Thursday, November 5, 1998
(By Brendan) 


Grumble, grumble, grumble!!!!!!!!  I'm not sure there are any words in the English language to truly describe how today went (I'm told that there might be a few words in Yiddish). Our press is still broken. The aggravating thing is that we are only two days away from having all of our grapes pressed and in barrel. We now have 10 tons of grapes that are done fermenting and ready to go. It's so frustrating. 

Dave and I spent most of the day trying to re-patch the gaping hole in our press. Unfortunately, it is a large hole and it is on the underside of the bladder and inside the press. Take it from me, it is not easily accessible. After having 3 of my patch job fail after hours of work, I was really not happy and let Dave have a crack at it. Dave dedicated the next couple of hours to the project and in the end also had his 3 patches fail in quick succession. Now Dave was not happy and he had a splitting headache (I wonder why?). The worst part was that aside from personal aggravation over not being able to solve the problem, it was compounded by the fact that we need the press NOW. It's a good thing that no one else was around today because we would not have been the best hosts. 

Dave and I finally gave up around 3:00 and were forced to figure out damage control for the next couple of days. We are having a new bladder shipped from New Jersey and are having it installed on Monday. Until then, we will have to pick up some Dry Ice in Santa Rosa and use it to protect the now-finished wine that is waiting to be pressed. What a crappy day! 

11:15 PM  Brendan is long gone and I have not given up. I have not heard back from Ray who will hopefully put the new bladder in the press. As a last resort, I have gone to epoxy. I don't have much hope--but what do I have to lose! I have tried to fill the hole with epoxy and reapply the failed patches. Brendan and I are going down to San Francisco to hear Matt Kramer speak at the Wine Spectator's Wine Experience, and I will check out the press when I get home.


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