Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Breaking of Winter

I noticed it today. Small spots of grass peaking their blades through the spaces of snow. And then, there were larger spots of green. Or, rather, gray-yellow-green, of the hibernating grasses that lay dormant under the covering of white.

No matter how much enjoyment my boys have enjoyed the days' off from school, no matter how much I enjoy the changing and diversity of the seasons. I am ready for spring. I am ready for summer. I am ready for spring.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big Snow of 2010, Part 2

After spending the last two days dealing with snow, I am now totally convinced of the concept of climate change. (Just because some people call it "global warming" doesn't mean it doesn't affect the winter times.)

As someone who lives and dies by the weather--in that I follow it religiously during most of the year due to vineyard issues--I am starting to notice some patterns. Basically, the weather forecasts seem to be getting more and more inaccurate. I've got a feeling that the predictor models are based on decades of weather data, and that they may not be as indicative of weather in 2010.

Now, I haven't been just thinking this because I've been dealing with so much snow that it's even hard for my boys to enjoy it. I've been seeing the local forecasts as well as some internet ones missing big storms as well as overcalling some near misses.

If there are any meteorologists out there who think I am way off my rocker, let me know. In the meantime, I'll be digging out from what was called a 5" snow a few days before it hit.....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More Snow and More Snow and More Snow

Like most of you on the East Coast, we got buried in snow starting Friday.  Probably got over two feet, but the drifts in front of the winery were a good 30".  It took me 15 minutes to plow a single lane with my tractor 25 feet long to our front door.  The four-wheel drive tractor could barely drive forward through the stuff, let alone push the snow.

I have to say that I am glad we got all of our tanks moved outside before all this hit.  We even filled them with the next batch of Suite for cold-stabilization.  I tried to go out and check the temperature in the tanks yesterday, but the stairwell to the crushpad was full of snow....

I don't think we've seen this big a dumping since 2004 when we had to cancel our Sweet Release weekend and I plowed for two days.  There's just a lot of snow out there.

That said, I think 4WD vehicles should be able to make it into our drive today if they really want to.  Good luck.  I'll be on the tractor if you need me......

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I'm torn these days.  I spent most of yesterday moving tanks around. We have a few tanks in our winery--horizontal ones that take up a lot of space--that we use for cold stabilization.  (These are old milk tanks from the dairy industry that we converted years ago for wine production.  What's good enough for milk is plenty good enough for wine--we have alcohol on our side!)

Every year we cold-stabilize our wines.  This involves bringing the temperature of the wine down to around 26F--depending on the alcohol content--and holding it there.  We then seed the wine with some potassium bitartrate in order to start a crystallization process that helps pull the excess tartaric acid out of solution.  Now, this sounds all fancy and chemistry-like, but every winery in the world does this or some form of this.  The aim of this is to have the crystals deposit in the tank so they don't deposit in the bottle in your fridge at home.

Interesting fact: the crystals we pull out of the wine?  It also goes by the name of "cream of tartar".  That's right, the stuff used in baking comes from the wine industry.  Neat, huh?

It takes a lot of energy to bring these wines to these low temperatures and hold them, especially when we're trying to keep the rest of the winery a little warmer (67F) in order to get our MLs to run in the barrels.  So, the idea was to take the tanks outside--where it's colder--and save some energy and space costs.  (Yes, space costs money.  It's why you are charged to put things in storage units.)

Opening up the space has made me realize that we could be using this barrel room as a Barrel Room.  In other words, use it for events and other marketing nonsense.  Perhaps sell a few more bottles of wine.  Now, I'd love to sell more wine, especially if it's the reds and whites I enjoy making so much.  But the site of a newly-freed-up wall just begs for more tanks and barrels to fill it, not tables and chairs. 

In any case, we're not quite done with the moving yet.  Just got about 3-4 inches of snow last night.  It's going to be fun sledding around with the forklift today.....