There’s light at the end of the tunnel, some space to walk in the winery, and good wine in process

Ask any winemaker how they’re doing this October and most will say crazy, busy, tired.  With our hot, dry summer and terrific weather through September the grapes were just crazy and all were finishing quick and together.  Michael’s been working out of town during the week so it’s made it even busier on the weekends trying to get everything done then.   This is the time of year that reminds us why we don’t want to go commercial – and magnify this craziness 10 times.    It has been a lot of fun and our friends have been really helpful coming over with little notice to help with crushing, pressing, sampling, and the not so much fun parts of winemaking lifting, cleaning, etc.

Last weekend was really busy.  It started Friday with Michael and Dawne bottling several cases or our 2013 wines: merlot, cab franc, and malbec.   He left several gallons of each for us to blend.  Then Friday evening we pressed the syrah.  This was an experience because it’s getting dark early now and makes for a challenge cleaning in the yard in the dark.  Note to selves for next year – mount a flood light for the carport and yard.   We had lots (about 9 gallons) of sludge left from the syrah pressing. And not wanting to let a few bottles get away, Michael decided to see if we could get some more out of it after it settled.


milliepressingsyrahThe following day we helped out our friends Dawne and Mark at her winery, Moose Canyon.  She was bottling 27 cases of bordeaux blends from her barrels. She has a really cool/fun bottling machine that fills 4 bottles in 19 seconds.  Much easier/quicker than the 45 seconds for 1 bottle with our siphon method.   This was a great time with lots of friends, food, and wine.  This was followed up by pressing at her house on Sunday.




Sunday morning we went down and picked about 150 pounds of grapes in Puyallup.  Sharon’s husband unexpectedly passed away earlier this year.  He has 5+ types of grapes growing in his yard.  Earlier this summer we bottled some of his wine that he had in process for the family. Michael is still working with his pear wine and we hope to get that bottled in the next week or so.  The grapes we picked are similar to the agria that we are growing in our yard.  We think they may be “Golubuk” based on the description in the nursery catalog.  The name means “little pigeon” in Russian.  It is also a tino or teinturier grape like our agria.  That means that the juice is red as well as the skins.  Most grapes have clear/light juice – and the color in the wine comes from the skins.   We hand destemmed and crushed these grapes in the afternoon Sunday, while watching the Seahawks game (unfortunately they lost).  This is quite a messy process because of the red juice.    We added almost a gallon of agria grapes from our yard to this wine.



Today, Sunday 10/19 we pressed our Malbec.   Then we strained the syrah “sludge”.   We got an additional 4 gallons of non-sludge juice to add to the wine!  Well worth the extra week and effort.   That still left 4+ gallons of alcoholic sludge for the birds.

pressing malbec20141019_111445


Since it was dry and sunny Leann spent some time cleaning up the gardens – getting rid of the dead squash vines and grape clusters.   The leaves are getting gorgeous.  These are our agria grapes.

Agria fall leaves
Agria fall leaves
Agria fall leaves
Agria fall leaves


So that leaves us down to just the cabernet sauvignon and the golubuk/agria still working on primary fermentation – and needing daily punch down.  The rest are settling in nicely in their tanks or carboys going through malolactic fermentation. Our plan for next weekend is to press the cab and golubuk (will need to come up with a good name for this one).  We’re also looking at playing with blending the 2013’s and bottling.  Michael is also going to be adding oak to the reds next weekend.

I think that’s about it for the updates – so far.  The wines are coming along great and should be tasty – in the next 1-2 years!

Everything should be settling down by the end of October.    Take care everyone!  Leann



Wine Label a Winner!

A big shout out to my sister Lore Mayr who designed our very cool Chorus Frog label.  Our label won the People’s Choice Award for the Open Wine Division at The Washington State Fair for 2014.    We’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it.   Our good friends Mary and Jerome Robbins also tied for first place with their label – with a picture of their laughing dog Mitzi.

Chorus Frog label wins People's Choice Award at the Washington State Fair
Chorus Frog label wins People’s Choice Award at the Washington State Fair

Winery Schedule

If anyone would like to join us for some fun with winemaking this weekends here’s the plan.

Friday 10/10 – Michael and Dawne are going to be working in the winery during the day bottling some of the 2013 Malbec, Merlot and Cab Franc.   At about 630 pm we’re going to have a pressing party to press the syrah – and maybe the malbec depending on how its coming along.  Leann’s going to pick up some pizza and munchies if anyone wants to come by and help with the pressing.  Its really not much work – and involves a lot of fun and tasting of both food and wine.

On Saturday and Sunday we’re going to be helping out Dawne at Moose Canyon Winery ( a short 1.8 miles from our house and Michael’s winemaking buddy). On Saturday we’ll be pressing her syrah and likely the malbec too. On Sunday we’re going to be bottling about 25 cases of her bordeaux blend.  She got a cool little multi-bottle bottler this year to play with, and will also have “stations” set up for corking and “foiling”, plus the typical eating and drinking support of the winemaker assistants.

Stay tuned for the following weekend plans as we’ll be needing to press the malbec (if not done this weekend) and the cabernet.

This past weekend we had a great time with our wineclub crushing/destemming the cabernet and crushing/destemming/pressing the viognier for the club competition.

crushing wineclub sauvignon blanc
crushing wineclub sauvignon blanc


The ever “fluid” winemaking schedule

Just as we think we have a plan, this year’s crazy harvest changes it once again.

The cabernet sauvignon and the viognier we’re getting for our winemaking club competition is ready.

Michael will be picking up on Friday Oct 3.  Saturday am we will be crushing the cabernet and crushing/pressing the viognier.

We are going to follow this up with a little tasting and blending party.  We’ve got to get some of the 2013 vintage into bottles to make room for the 2014.   We’ll be tasting and playing with blending the malbec, cab franc, and merlot.   Anyone interested is welcome to join us.

The syrah looks like it may have another week yet on fermenting, so we’ll keep everyone posted on the schedule for pressing that.

This picture of “baby puke or poop” is sauvignon blanc and pinot gris going through primary fermentation.  In 3-6 months it will be lovely and tasty – we promise!  The second photo is the pinot gris from last year in the spring before bottling if you don’t believe.