Friday, September 23, 2005

The Crush is On

Hello dear readers. As you may know, I am currently employed in the practice of turning grapes into wine. As you may also know, grapes are a natural product, harvestable only once in a 365-day period, usually sometime between mid-August and the end of October.

That's right, it's that time. Over at the 'wood, we've been crushing grapes since the beginning of the month, and as of yesterday, we've got about a quarter of our total crop in the door. When we've got everything in, that's just the beginning for us in the lab: after that, we monitor all the fermentations until they go dry of sugar, then monitor malolactic fermentation in most lots. Then we get to work on "stuck" fermentations -- the ones where the yeast culture dies before consuming all the sugar, maybe because of high starting sugar which leads to high alcohol. Maybe because of something else. Whatever the case, zinfandel, the great grape of California (that's right, not Cab. Sauv, you Parkerites) is particularly at risk for stuck fermentations. It can have very high sugars (so far, not terribly many this cool year, though) but probably it's some other factor we haven't isolated yet.

Next point: run, do not walk, to your car; start driving north, to a spot outside the town of Sonoma, this sunday before 2pm. I'm talking about the brunch at Folini & Eichenbaum. It's incredible -- went last Sunday and stuffed myself on the wonderful selection of cheeses, meats (they make this spiral-cut baked ham that's incredible) eggs, (a sort of savory custard called strada is a standout, as are the made-to-order benedicts) salads, bagels and lox...mmmm...and don't get me started on the desserts. Cheesecake, carrot cake, truffles. The amazing thing is that everything is such a high caliber -- it was the best brunch, quality-wise, since I had the smorgasbord at Aquavit in New York several years ago. The quiches and eggs are incedibly delicate in texture, the meat intensely flavorful, the salads well-balanced. If you can't make it for Sunday brunch, then swing by for your lunch next time you're wine touring in Sonoma. Folini and Eichenbaum is on Arnold drive at Grove St, so go straight at the 76 Station with the flashing red light instead of turning right to follow the Carneros highway.

What else? I just tried to take a picture of the new place for this post, but it came out looking a bit more squalid than things actually are. Maybe later today I'll try again.

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