Saturday I was in the winery for a day of work. Stefania was helping a friend move so I headed up by myself for the days work. My first task was to top up all of the 2009 wines. That's the process of adding wine to the existing barrels. Each barrel loses about 1/2 a gallon per month through evaporation and that has to be replaced. If it's not the resulting air gap in the barrel can lead to spoilage and infection of the wine.
In the winter time when the cellar is at 55 degrees and the weather is humid, evaporation is slow and I top up every month. In the summer the cellar warms up to about 65 degrees and the air is dry so I top up every two weeks.
After topping up I drew samples from all our 2010 wines. The TTB and ATB of California require us to have a lab certified reading of all of our wines. So after the new year each year I draw samples to send into Vinquiry for official measurements. I try to take an equal amount from each barrel. Below is the Pyrex bowl I transfer the samples into and three of the five sample bottles are filled and ready to go. Vinquiry has a special tag I'll put on the bottles before shipment, but in the winery I use a Sharpie and blue tape.
The 2010 wines still have fermentation bungs in them. You can see them on the top of the barrels below. It's a small tube and water bowl. The idea is the tube allows air to escape from the barrel and the water bowel prevents air from getting back into the barrel. The water is treated with sulfur to make it bacteria free.
If the barrel could not vent itself, any gas created from ongoing fermentation or from the secondary fermentation would be absorbed by the wine. This could create off flavors or worse make the wine spritzy.
I was actually pretty pleased with the 2010's at this point. They all have really dark colors and I was not getting any unripe flavors, which had been a concern. The Pinot is still fermenting slowly but the other wines are all finished. The wines were rounder than I expected too with no angular tannins at this point.
I also spent some time out in the vineyard helping Jerry prune, and we had a couple of guests stop by for a brief tasting. The weather was great though and I wished I could have spent more time outside pruning.