10/22/05 to 10/28/05
Saturday, 10-22, we went back to the winery as planned.  Ellen put us to work
crushing more grapes.  Since we were already old hands at that, we got it done
fast and called it a day.  

Sunday, 10-23, we went down the Russian River in a different spot.  We were in
the new 12 foot SOAR so it took a little getting used to.  It isn't nearly as
forgiving as the 16 foot, so I was glad we weren't on the upper section we had
ran the week before with all the rocks and rapids.  It was warm on the river, we
stayed out there all day and got sun burns.

Monday 10-24, we sat in the sun all day, read books, relaxed and turned our sun
burns into tans.  

On Tuesday, 10-25, we headed back to the winery for more learning.  Ellen had
us rack barrels of wine.  
(In case you haven't been paying attention to all the
wine terms I've been teaching in these last several web pages, "rack" means
to move from one container to another to get the wine off of the lees.  "Lees"
means the sediment that settles out of the wine.)
 So, my job was to run the
pump while watching in the barrel with a flashlight to stop the pump when the
barrel got full.  Richard was taking the empty barrels and putting them on the
barrel washer which spins them and washes the inside.  He always gets the
messy jobs doesn't he?  Good thing we have those rubber boots.
The pump goes slow, about 6 gallons a minute, and they are 60 gallon barrels,
so it takes a while to fill one.  I left my post for a second to take the above
picture, and look what happened!  
Good thing I don't really work there or I might have been fired.  So, besides the
half a bottle of wine on the floor, the day went smoothly and we got about 14
barrels of wine racked.  (At 60 gallons a barrel that's 840 gallons, or about 4240
bottles of wine!  Wait, I guess that's down to 4239.5 bottles now.)

Every day we also have to punch down the must.
(I hope you're paying attention,
because this is the last time I will be defining all these terms for you.  "Must" is
the grapes and juice for the first week or so while it is fermenting in a
non-air-tight container)
 It's the same concept as what we did when we stirred
our must, but not nearly as easy a chore.  It is hard to get those huge vats stirred
up with the bubbles from the yeast pushing up against you.
Wednesday, 10-26, we went back and helped Ellen filter wine that she is
getting ready to bottle.  Her niece Kristen came to help.  She rode the barrel
washer while Ellen spun her dizzy.
Even after my little spill the day before, Ellen trusted me to watch wine levels
going into the filter.  Here I am pretending to know what I am looking for in a
glass of filtered wine.  
Well, does this picture
make you think I am a
true wine connoisseur,
or what?

The organ behind me
is a 1924 theatre pipe
organ.  The entire
room (We were
working in the tasting
room because that's
where the barrels had
been stacked.)  has
pipes around it and the
slats in the wall above
the organ open like
bellows and stuff.  
Pretty amazing.  They
play it from a computer
and it sounds amazing.
 (It plays "Take Me Out
To The Ball Game.")
Thursday, 10-27, Ellen didn't have anything else for us to do (we're supposed
to help her bottle some time soon, but she didn't have the right bottles yet) so
she let us go out and pick some Riesling for our own home brew.  (Cause we
didn't have enough space in our 24.5' trailer already occupied with Cranberry
and Blackberry wines, right?)  We really wanted to make a lot of Riesling, but
due to lack of space, we vowed to only make 5 gallons.  We headed out and
picked the 100 pounds of grapes that it would take to make 5 gallons.
Then we crushed them and started loading them into the press.  Now,
remember, Ellen is a real wine maker, not of the home brew variety, so her
press was too big for 100 pounds of grapes.  See, her press isn't the small
screw top kind.  You have to fill it all the way up around a large rubber balloon in
the center that gets filled with water to press the grapes.  If you don't fill it full, the
balloon inflates unevenly and bursts or just doesn't effectively press the grapes.  
So there was no way around it, we had to go back out and pick 100 more
pounds of grapes before the press was full.  
So much for our vow to only make 5 gallons.  This meant of course that we had to
go buy ANOTHER glass carboy and more yeast, but we weren't complaining.  5
more gallons of wine, that's 25 more bottles!!  That brings me to the best part.  You
might be wondering how we were going to get all the bottles we would need to
bottle the Blackberry, Cranberry, and Riesling wines.  We were wondering too, but
Ellen gave us 14 cases of NEW bottles.  Each type of wine goes in a specific
bottle, and these are a color and shape that she says she won't need.  So, now we
have homes for our little wine family.  

When we move the RV from park to park, the wines ride in the shower.  Not only
are they snug in there, so they can't topple over, but even if they decide to knock
their tops off and slosh out, it won't hurt anything.  This park we're in now doesn't
have sewer hook-ups, so we have been going to the park showers, so we left them
in there (conveniently out of the way.)  Here's how it looks with our new addition.  
Kinda crowded huh?  And not nearly as impressive as the barrels at Ellen's.
The Riesling is in 2 five and 2 one gallon jugs right now, with cloth tops,
because white wine does it's primary fermenting in enclosed glass jars
instead of in the open bucket.  There really is only about 9 gallons, (10 when
we squeezed it, but 9 after we racked it off the sediment) but during primary
fermentation it will foam up, so we have each jar only a little more than 3/4 full.
 That's Blackberry in the back, then 2 three gallons and 1 one gallon jar of
Cranberry.  We racked it Thursday morning to free up a 5 gallon carboy for
the Riesling, but it didn't quite top up the jars, so we will have to rack it again
soon.  Is it making you thirsty?

Friday, 10-28, we were supposed to help Ellen go bottle the wine we filtered
on Wednesday, but since it was raining all morning, she couldn't go get the
bottles she needed (all she has to haul them in is an open trailer.)  So, we sat
around the RV and complained about the gloomy weather.  It is supposed to
be warm and sunny this weekend, but Ellen will be out of town, so we'll have
to find our own entertainment.