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Phoenix Landing!

Since my last post, there has been a ton of exciting wine news:

* We bottled the 2007 Bad Astronauts Phoenix Landing Cabernet Sauvignon / Cab Franc
* This wine won a Double Gold and Best Red of Show at the El Dorado County Fair!!!
* It also won a silver at the Sacramento Home Winemakers Jubilee
* and another silver in Placer County

If you were involved with the making of this wine at all (or if you were reading my posts back in the fall), you know that a lot of work went into this. I'm extremely proud of the success the Bad Astronauts have had with this wine, and I'm excited about starting it all over in the fall (hopefully with fewer problems to conquer!).

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Grapefruit Wine Update!

I pulled a sample from each of the two kegs today and brought it home for testing. The wine in both was pretty clear, but one is noticeably darker than the other as a result of the miracle we performed after the last racking.

Here are the results of the tests:

Keg 1 (the darker one): pH 3.43, 50ppm free SO2
Keg 2 (the lighter one): pH 3.40, 50ppm free SO2

These numbers are good.

Both taste about the same, although the lighter colored one tastes a bit thinner…which might be good, because both still have a very abrasive grapefruit finish. The sugar we add before bottling and 4-6 months of bottle aging mellowed it out last year, and I’m sure it will be the same this time. There’s nothing “wrong” with the wine right now, and so I’m happy!

One thing I’m going to experiment with this weekend is trying to smooth out the bitterness and clarify the wine by fining it with skim milk or egg whites. Here’s a short article about how this works.

At this point, I’m thinking we’re going to bottle in April or early May

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Announcing the 2007 Comet Colombard!

Jeff, Margaret, and I bottled the 2007 French Colombard on Saturday. Sam came by and cheered us on too. This is the white that Margaret and I bought as grape juice from Delicato Winery back in the fall. We had 17 gallons, which ended up being 6.5 cases of wine (78 bottles). And, it’s really good.

It’s unfiltered, but very clear due to the cold weather we’ve been having, which causes the wine to clarify naturally. If you put it next to a white wine that’s been filtered, you’ll see that it’s hazier, but you’ll still be amazed at how pretty this wine is.

Sunday, we took a bottle down to John Carvalho at Carvalho Family Winery in Clarksburg. He was impressed with it, and said it has a nice nose, good acidity, apple and melon flavors, and that the mid-palate was surprisingly and pleasantly smooth.

Later on that evening, we took a bottle to Revolution Winery and had the winemaker there, Jason Fernandez, try it. He also had very nice things to say about it. Since this was my first non-fruit white wine, I was extremely thrilled to be getting such a glowing review.

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Grapefruit Wine!

I have a recipe for Grapefruit wine that we used last year to make about 10 gallons of it. It turned out really good, and so this year, we're going to make 30 gallons.

However, the recipe I have is for just 1 gallon. I have a feeling that multiplying this recipe by 30 might cause any acceptable margin of error from the 1 gallon recipe to be way out of wack.

So, my plan is to set targets for the acid level and alcohol and then do lots of math and testing to figure out the best way to get there.

My goal is to make a medium dry or medium sweet wine with a PH between 3.1 and 3.4 and about 12% alcohol.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients (per gallon):

6 grapefruit
6 pints water
2.25 lbs sugar
1/4 tsp. Tannin
1 campden tablet
1 package champagne yeast

So, if we just multiple the recipe by 30, we'll need:

180 grapefruit
180 pints water (22.5 gallons)
67.5 lbs sugar
7.5 tsp Tannin
30 campden tablets
maybe 6 packages of yeast?

So, we need to figure out if this is right, or what needs adjustment.

Right now, here are the numbers for the grapefruit:

pH: 2.4-2.5 (?!)
Sugar: 11.5 Brix

So, the first thing to do is to add enough water to the juice to make the acidity be acceptable.

The second thing is to add enough sugar to the mixture of juice and water to make the resulting wine have enough alcohol.

I need to find some charts and calculators. Here's what I've found out so far:

- 11.5 Brix wine will make about a 5.8% alcohol wine (according to this:
- the above recipe adds 22.5 gallons of water (0 brix, 0 lbs sugar) to 7.5 gallons of juice at 11.5 brix (1 lb of sugar)...resulting in 7.5 lbs of sugar in 30 gallons of juice, or .25 lbs in 1 make a 12.2% alcohol wine, you need to start with 22 Brix, or 2 lbs of sugar per gallon. So, we need to add 1.75 lbs per gallon...which is actually less than the recipe above calls for. Did I do the math right? If so, the orginal recipe would result in a 13.5% or so wine...which would actually be just fine. So, maybe we stick with the original sugar addition.

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Grapefruit Wine Day!

This Saturday is Grapefruit wine day!

Here’s what we need to get done (hopefully):

1: Grapefruit wine

  • Wash, peel, and segment about 100 grapefruit(s?) and put it all in big straining bags
  • Wash and sanitize winemaking equipment
  • Run tests on the grapefruit juice (more on this later)
  • Mix water and sugar in primary fermenter, lower in bags of grapefruit
  • Crush campden tablets and add them (to stun the wild yeast and kill other possibly bad things)
  • Bring the fermenter inside the house to warm up overnight (before adding yeast)

2: Limoncello

We’re going to make some Limoncello with Lemons, Citron, and Grapefruit. We’ll make three separate bottles, then try blending them later when they’re done.

3: Rack the Cab

If we have time and enough help, we’ll rack the 07 Cab into a new barrel, then wash out the old one

4: Eat/Drink/Party

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Our wine rocks!

So, I tasted and topped up our wine today. It's coming along nicely! There's no longer any trace of H2S, it's really clear, the color seems to have improved (maybe because of evaporation in the barrel?), and it's very drinkable.

I added a bit over a quart to the barrel to top it off. I'll probably top it up a couple more times over the next 2 months. In February, we'll rack into a new barrel...which we don't actually have yet...but I'm sure that will get figured out in time. OR, we could use oak chips or sticks.

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My “Shop Local” Dilemma.

We have 3 places to buy hardware near our house: an independent “mom and pop” sort of hardware store, a small Ace Hardware (chain), and a Home Depot. I always try to go to the independent place, because it’s the right thing to do, but I regret going there every single time.

Today, for example, I needed to replace the pipe under the sink in our laundry room. I went to mom and pop hardware, and told the kid working the register what I needed. He came back with some of the parts, but with washers and a nut missing, and one of the pipes was the wrong size. After talking with the guy who knows what he’s doing, we eventually found a package from 1950 that had most of the right parts, and then they were able to find everything else I needed laying around…mind you: this was nothing out of the ordinary…just a simple 1 1/2 inch pipe and a J-trap.

When I got home and looked at the parts, I found that one of the washers was falling apart from age. I tried installing it anyway, but it leaked. I headed back to mom and pop hardware to get a replacement. They were cexercise/>losed (at 5:00). So, I decided to do the next best thing and head over to the neighborhood Ace hardware. Also cexercise/>losed. Several hours after my adventure started, I ended up at Home Depot and found what I needed (well…cexercise/>lose to what I needed…I ended up having to get a pack of 6 washers).

This is what happens almost every time I need something from the hardware store. I set out wanting to give me business to the local places, but then end up wasting all sorts of time and money and wishing I had just gone to Home Depot to begin with.

How is a person supposed to shop at the locally-owned store when it’s almost always disappointing and a waste of time and money?