October was wet, really really wet. It rained on more days than were dry. You would think that any sane person would be doing a lot of writing and computer stuff inside. That didn’t happen much. It was still all wine, wine, wine. It was picking grapes on dry days and crushing, cleaning, bottling and consolidating on others.
So what’s “consolidating”? (Hint: It has nothing to do with finance.) If you followed the Barreca Vineyards facebook page, you saw what happens when yeast gets too excited: foam. LOTS of foam.* Working with small batches of many different grapes and now apples and berries, the most practical containers are carboys. Thank goodness I purchased more this year. There are now 75 carboys working in the winery. 40 of them are from this year’s crop and more will be working soon. We generally do not use oak barrels or any additives for that matter. Glass carboys are cleanable, can be added in various sizes to fit the crop and are relatively inexpensive. But you can’t fill them to the top at first because the foam will plug up the vapor lock and bad things can happen. (I speak from experience here.) So I cinch clean paper towels over the tops to keep bugs out until the foam has settled down. When the foam has died down I “consolidate” the wine by filling each carboy to very near the top. (This also frees up some carboys for further use.) Then a vapor lock goes on to let the carbon dioxide out but no oxygen in. At that point I can get an accurate measure of how much wine we have and feel relieved that it is relatively secure for the next couple of years while the microbes do their thing.)
(I did get away one day to explore the Germania mine. But that had nothing to do with wine, so you can read that story in our rock club newsletter on the Panorama Gem and Mineral Club website.)
October was also the last month for the Northeast Washington Farmers Market. By the end, we were very ready for it to be the end. We had avoided significant rain on Wednesdays all summer, but it let loose on us the last day. It wasn’t a bad day though. When the going gets wet, the wet keep going.
Speaking of flowing… The next crop after grapes is apples. Apple wine is still mostly a research and development project for us. Our Caramel Apple wine is popular but I want to develop wild berry wines with an apple base. Our neighbors helped out this year by giving us the apple crop from their small orchard. With about a ton of apples to work with, the apple wine research is well under way.
There is a lot to be thankful for this year and the Barreca family did it in their usual early fashion by celebrating “Thanksween”, basically an early Thanksgiving Dinner to avoid hectic traffic on Thanksgiving Day and the added possibility of snow on the passes. Jeannette Barreca and Bill Yake hosted 28 family members for the event this year and Barreca Vineyards supplied wine and some music. Thank You Jeannette and Bill!
Of course a lot more has gone on since then but in order to limit this blog to bite-sized chunks, that will wait till next month.
*(Some yeasts more than others.)