|November 29 through Dec 12, 1998
A lot has happened since I last posted. We found another case of Carignane that was watered down. 4 bottles seemed to be darker, but were still watery. We suspect another case is out there. Good news is that the bottling line is willing to compensate us for all our losses. NOW how much is my reputation worth? Another rejection we have had: Late Harvest Sauv Blanc---4 Corks have popped. So as I write on Dec 12th I am drinking my first bottle of this nectar in months. It is 6% alc. and 31% sugar and extremely high acid . How can it be completely stable unless it was sterile filtered and stripped!! This is the most intense wine I have ever had!! We have got back at least 8 cases from our distributor so we are selling it for $21 per half bottle. Please keep it in the refrig. This wine will go for 100 years.
We are considering an automatic bottling line! We have heard many wineries do not want to put out the big capital expense. Barrels are important packaging is important. I want to preserve my fruit, so I only use 20% new oak, we use less expensive composite corks and we use the same bottle for everything. Does that mean I can afford and should buy my own bottling line? Here are the facts: I have had trouble with mobile bottling lines. I have small lots--can I produce wine that is consistent if I use a mobile bottling line? They do not have a drain to clear out the last wine because of sterile filtering. I do not filter. Do they understand winemaking? They make us run at least 4 cases of each new wine through to make sure that the wine is pure. That is not acceptable to me. What does this mean?: We are considering bottling a 3 pack of our Pinot Noir experiment--25 case lots. Could that mean that we would lose 16% of the wine OR mix 4 cases with the next lot? The down side? A small line which could produce about 80 cases an hour would cost $55,000. A mobile bottler can do over 200 cases an hour. It is interesting though that with our own line we should be able to cut out four workers. We figure we could still do 700 to 900 cases a day. We could bottle any time from July 1 to August 15. I have decided to produce between 3200 and 3700 cases. Brendan has commited to me for as many seasons as I want. He hopes to graduate from Cal Poly next year and I plan to give him more responsibility each year. We can easily handle that amount of cases and produce the best quality wine. Our own bottling line would be perfect for us in order to produce the best quality. Can we afford it. I am still borrowing money, so I will have to finance. At 10% interest I estimate that the line would cost me 40 cents a bottle over 5 years. I hope my customers will understand when I raise my prices to compensate.
We blended all our wines on the 9th and 10th of December. I changed the percentages of the wines we are now selling on the order form. The other wines we are making are as follows: Dry Sauv Blanc is 100% varietal; Late harvest Sauv Blanc is 100% varietal and is sold out. We will bottle 250 cases of Petite Sirah at 75% Ps, 14% cab (5% is Aca Modot Cab), 11% Carignan and it is sold out. We will bottle 250 cases of Carignan at 75% Carignan, 10% zin, 11% cab and 4% Barbera. We will also make a 3 pack of the Pinot experiment with full history to sell for $75.