Halloween at Michael Florentino Cellars!

Video of  the Halloween release party at Michael Florentino Cellars. They released a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Frank and a Petite Verdot. With a special guest appearance of Gene Simmons and Father George, everyone had a “spooky” good time!

Halloween release party

Birth of a Vineyard!

Vines waiting to be planted

We have finally done it! Jay and I planted a real test block of grapes vines! At the end of April we headed over to Inland Dessert in Benton City WA to pick up our vines. 100 in total: 25 Malbec, 25 Cabernet Franc, 25 Pinot Noir and 25 Pinot Blanc. Then, the following week, in early May, we finally planted them, about

First vine planted!

one month late, but luckily the ground is still quite moist and plants are still dormant. I had no idea how long it would take to plant them, but we finished in just 6 hours! Now, I have an idea of what it will be like to plant the next planting. But what to plant next?

At our next visit, a month later, a fairly large percentage of the vines had started to break bud or just plain leafed out and started to “vine up”! The straglers of the bunch, oddly enough, were the Malbec. Strange, becuase of all the varities we planted, the Malbec had the largest, beefiest root systems.

The vineyard one month later.

Our next visit, which will be Fourth of July weekend, is greatly anticipated as the weather has heated up a bit, with a few days already reaching up into the low eighties!

In July, we are taking a much needed vacation in Canada, just over the border, up the Canadian side of the Okanagan Valley to check out their many wineries. I see lots of both Pinot Noir and Blanc listed, as well as some lesser know varities like Kerner, a German hybrid. Ice wines and late harvest are also on the list of wines to check out!

Hopefully, the next time I post, I will have even more growth to show off, provided I have set the irrigation to enough time and frequency. We shall see!

Cabernet Franc blooms!

My First Wine and other wine activities

OK, so I did another chromatography test on my Sangiovese/Cabernet blend at Michael Florentino Cellars and it still has not converted all of the malic acid to lactic acid! So time to crank up the heat in the “wine shed” out back. Hope that works! I am starting to worry that it has gone to long with out any additional SO2. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one!

Mean while back at the ranch (or property) for the first time of the season was March the weekend of the 11th! Friday was sunny and mild and very therapeutic!  We have finally cleared enough sage brush to plant our first test block of one hundred vines for this coming May. I have ordered Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Pinot Noir and Viognier from Inland Dessert. However, I am seriously thinking about switching out the Viognier for Pinot Blanc, which is more cold hardy and seldom seen in Washington state, but maybe should be seen more!

Brad Sherman of MFC and me!

Also, last Sunday (March 27th.) I actually got to try the “Grand Tasting” at Taste Washington for the first time, since I was pouring for MFC, instead of doing a seminar on Saturday. Not as crowded as years past from what I hear, but at a great time and saw lots of familiar faces.

Next up: Rose of Monastrell Release party at MFC, April 23rd and 24th. in the Woodinville Warehouse District. Monastrell is known as Mourvedre in France and most of the U.S.


My first Wine: Part 5

Well, after having racked both carboys of wine several weeks ago, I thought it was about time I ran some labs on them.

So I took some samples to school and ran SO2‘s, pH and TA (titratable acidity) tests, as well as doing a chromatography test on them. This test tells me whether the wines have converted malic acid to latic acid. Malic is a harder/sharper acid; think sour apple. Lactic acid is much softer. As I suspected from tasting as well as watching pH and TA’s go up and down, it looks like the Petite Verdot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend have almost completely converted to latic acid. The Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon still have a way to go.

Chromatography Test

After going through all the trouble of running an SO2 test on my wines, I realized that I had used the wrong strength of NaOH, so I’m still not sure how much free SO2 is present. So I decided I will run them again once they are through with malic/latic conversion. I won’t want to add any now anyway, since that would stop the conversion process.

My First Wine-Part 4: H2S and Why you Should Rack!

About a month ago, I discovered that my wine had developed a terrible funk. The smell could be described as burnt match stick with a touch of smoke. This “funk” is often caused by H2S production or Hydrogen Sulfide. This can occur because grapes were sprayed with chemicals too close to harvest, or leaving the juice on the gross lees too long amongst other reasons. After doing a little research I decided I need to rack right away. And that did help, but the Sang/Cab. blend had quite a bit of “funk” so we racked again and that seemed to do the trick! Which is great, because that means I didn’t have to add Copper Sulfate or add more SO2. Few! I was worried that the wines were ruined beyond the point of no return!

Lab Numbers Update: As of 12-11-11, the pH and TA for the Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend are 3.44 and 6.75 and the Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend are 3.25 and 7.2. It appears that secondary fermentation has taken place with the P. Verdot blend as the pH as gone up and TA down. But it’s hard to tell with Sangio blend because it looks the pH dropped and that doesn’t make sense. I will have to re-test pH, and TA in the next few week. Hopefully I will be able to test for SO2 content as well as run the wine through MLF (malolactic fermentation) chromatography.

That’s it for this update. Now to think of some names for the wines while they spend the winter in our new wine shed. Will have to post pictures of that soon!

Green Lake Wines: Richard Kinssies 07 Tempranillo

The Parallel Winos Video blog of Richard Kinssies ’07 Tempranillo.

Sorry! The sound quality is not too good, it was quite crowded and well…. noisy!


Green Lake Wines Bubbly Tasting: The last gathering of the year for the Underground Winos

Richard Kinssies presented sparkling wines from around the world; Here are some of the highlights of what we tasted:

Diana, Brian and Bernadette

Diana, Brian and Bernadette

Non Vintage Szigeti Brut Sparkling Gruner Veltliner (Austria) $18
Szigeti is the producer and Gruner Veltliner is the grape. Gruner is the most important white grape in Austria and it can make amazing wines both still (without bubbles)… and sparkling. This one is bright and fresh and though it is very dry it is loaded with fruit. The nose was fabulous as it reminded me of carmelisied popped corn! This was my personal favorite and was a big hit with the other “winos” as well!

The wine speaks to Diana!

The wine speaks to Diana!

Non Vintage Henri Abele Brut Champagne (FR) $29
This is real Champagne! Though it may not be the most famous Henri Abele is one of the oldest and most respected of the Champagne houses. The wine is dry with notes of yellow apple and biscuits.

Non Vintage Domaine Michel Juillot Blanc de Blanc Cremant de Borgogne $19
This is a sparkling wine from the Burgundy region of France. It is made almost entirely from chardonnay grapes and has the elegance and complexity that that grape imparts on sparkling wines. This wine could easily pass for Champagne.

Richard Kinssies '07 Tempranillo, Yakima Valley

Also, we purchased three bottles from their happy hour menu to try last night. The hands down favorite was none other than Richard Kinssies ’07 Yakima Valley Tempranillo $15. The nose had a lovely eucalyptus aroma and the palate was a sumptuous mix of berry flavored tobacco, menthol, cassis with an expansive, slightly tarry finish. This wine is both a great food and sipping wine! A great value!

Audra & Antoine give a toast to the New Years!

And of course, what “Winos” evening would be complete with out stopping at Wine World! I picked up a Muscat De Beaumes de Venise, Domaine De Coyeux, ’03, a dessert wine from the Rhone valley. There are two types of Muscat planted at Coyeux – grains blancs and grains noirs. The latter, being darker, have more aroma and flavor. In the words of the owner, the dark berries give body and the lighter ones give elegance. I haven’t cracked this open yet, so here are the winemaker’s notes: The powerful and expressive nose shows aromas of white flowers, peach and honey. On the palate the wine is round and sweet, but not cloying, with a lively acidity. The total effect is fresh and elegant with good length and lots of charm.

This is my last post of the year, but stay tuned for next year’s posts where I will have an up date on “My First Wine“, video from Green Lake Wines, updates on activities with Vintage 2010 @NW Wine Academy and much more!



Wine World Grand Opening!

Video of Wine World’s Grand Opening!


My First Wine: Pressing the Grapes!

After finding a homemade press on Craig’s list, Ella and I press off the fermented grape juice. The large carboy gets the Sangiovese from Brad of Gecko Cellars, plus most of the Cabernet Sauvignon I obtained from Rob of Finn Hill Winery.  The Petite Verdot goes into the 3 gallon carboy with the remaining Cab. Sauv. Dexter helps out as well! Now that I’ve finally added some ML bacteria that I got from Scott Greenberg of The Convergence Zone, it can now do its thing for a few weeks. Boy, does it take a “wine village”! I’ve ordered some more oak chips and few other wine additive “goodies” on-line. Can’t wait to see what I ordered! Will have to post some more lab numbers next time!




Rioja Tasting @ SSCC

A World of Wine in a Single Spanish Valley Wednesday, October 20, at South Seattle Community College. Adrian Murcia, a Brooklyn-based writer and educator and frequent traveller to the region, lead us through a tasting tour Rioja‘s history, geography, and impressive natural endowment of soils and micro-climates, along with the area’s oddly harmonious commitment to both tradition and restless innovation–help explain Rioja’s modern-day multiplicity of styles.

Of the seven that were presented I will give you my personal top three:

  • Starting with Number 3: Lorinon: Bodegas Breton, Rioja Alta: Reserva, ’05, 85% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo & 5% Garancha. Aged 22 months in oak. Raspberry, black tea, dark cherry flavors predominate. $10.50
  • Number 2: Ondalan Crianza, 06, Rioja Alavesa. 80% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano. Aged 14 months in 75% american  and 25% French oak barrels. With licorice, cocoa and raspberry flavors. $15.
  • And finally Number 1: Beronia: Gran Reserva, ’01, Rioja Alta. 88% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 4% Mazuelo. Aged 24 months in French and American oak. Definately the big hit amounst the tasters I talked to that afternoon! With complex notes of earth, black tea, mushroom, saddle leather, licorice, and vanilla. And best of all I saw this one at the Kirkland Costco for $14.99! A total bargin!