The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

Fallbrook Vineyard Visit


I saw a classified on the SDAWS site for local syrah grapes, and convinced Dave to go in on 500 lbs.  Paul is also going to take 500 lbs to make at home.  This syrah is grown at Live Oak Vineyard in Fallbrook, and we get to take part in harvest when the grapes are ready.

We were invited to come out and look at the vines and talk about harvest, so we all met out there.  The property is beautiful, and the vines look great.  This is the 4th year of growth for this syrah, and the grower/owner, Mike Hoffman, said he held back water a little this year to stress the grapes – in a good way, to make them more concentrated.  He got his refractometer to check the brix:


The refractometer basically shows how much sugars the grapes have produced so far in degrees brix based on how much the sugars bend the refraction of light in the instrument.  It’s neat to look through.  Our grapes are at about 19 degrees brix, and we’re planning to harvest at about 24-25 degrees brix.  Mike said he’s also going to keep an eye on pH this year, and when it starts dropping dramatically that will signal time for harvest as well.

We tasted some of his first harvest wine, which is still bulk aging in VersaTanks.  It was really tasty, especially for a young wine, with lots of spice and smoke, light fruit, and good structure overall.  We’re really excited about this wine!

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