The Weathervane

An Intense, but Satisfying Week

IMG_3729Phew! What an intense but satisfying week it has been! Within this past week we brought in the rest of the Pinot Noir, all of the Chardonnay, and all of the Sauvignon Blanc, totaling around 75 ton. Everything has been processed and is in tank, barrel, or ferment. Here is a picture of Alessio and I sorting Sauvignon Blanc and also a picture of the final lot of Pinot before processing.

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This is a picture of us pressing some Sauv. Blanc into the catch tank before pumping it to the receiving tank.

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Having these long days also meant early mornings, and my bedroom gets an excellent view of the sunrise. Here is a picture of just one of the many sunrise shots I have – full of beautiful colors.

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IMG_3765One reason amongst many that this winery is so rad is that Steve is not afraid to experiment. One example of this would be using an “amphora” or ceramic egg tank that we have to ferment a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, on the skins! For those who are not aware, white grapes are not usually fermented on the skins like red. They are typically brought in, cold soaked for a couple days and pressed, or pressed off immediately. This is done for a number of reasons, but the point is that he pushes traditional thought and tries things, usually in small quantities, that others don’t, resulting in a wide range of styles which can be used for blending components in the end. Here is picture of me doing some manual punch downs. This is also represented in his Pinot Noirs, where he does a collection of ferment styles using some whole bunch, some not, some with heavier extraction etc. In the end, he doesn’t have a singular wine, but rather one with many layers and complex in aromatics, mouth feel, and palate.

IMG_3775This week we actually had all of our red ferments go dry, which means we had to give quite of bit of TLC to the reds. Mostly this involved punch downs and pump-over’s, but also in between, we would incorporate oxygen via fish tank bubblers or something to push small molecules of air into the wine. All the while we took baume’s and temps of course (below is a picture of testing ferments while pumping over and my hands in grapes while pumping some air into the wine). Speaking of pump-overs, we also tried out this piece that Steve bought in Austria that spins the juice and throws it over the cap while being pumped from above. Below is a picture.

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IMG_3892One cool thing that I am sure most of you will enjoy is that one tank we have is completely whole bunch, meaning we didn’t crush it or destem it at all, but rather poured the grapes straight into tank. Today it started fermenting, and to make sure we had a homogenous tank, three of us got inside from the top and foot stomped the top layer to create a little juice. Given that “do you ever stomp grapes with your feet like in I love Lucy?” is the most commonly asked question in the tasting room, I figured I would include this bit and answer ‘yes,’ but only in very specific circumstances. Here is a picture of the action taking place.

Now, on to a bit of food!

On Good Friday we went to a Chinese food restaurant for a little lunch with Steve. There are plenty of Chinese on the mainland and also in Tassie, and the food is similar to what we have in the states, with some slight variations. The reason I am even referencing this lunch is because we tried something, per Steve’s recommendation, that I have never had before…chicken feet! They were actual chicken feet prepared by what looked like a light fry, and topped with a soya sauce. Very gelatinous in texture and not much meat. Conclusion: I wont be getting them again anytime soon, but at least I gave them a try! Here is a picture of the feet

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Of course the best day of the weekend would have to have been Easter Sunday! We bought a lamb to rotisserie on the spit. Here are some photos of us putting it on the spike in the house on the kitchen table and us (Alessio, Steve, and I) holding it after it was prepared. There is also a picture of it roasting during the day.

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Then it came to mealtime. We had a massive lunch with 2 of Steves kids, Steve and Monique of course, Alessio, Monia, all of the Woofers, and one of the family’s friends that lives down the street. It was a true feast! We had the lamb of course, plus roasted potatoes, salad, a bit of fish, and this dhal (Indian condiment) that I put all over the lamb. Below is a picture of us dishing out the food and a picture of my plate! There is also a picture of all of us eating together.

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I would also like to highlight the plethora of dessert. We had salame di cioccolato, sticky date pudding, pavlova (Australia’s famous meringue type dessert with banana and passion fruit), bienenstich (German honey cake). Here are pictures of the desserts.

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We also had some incredible wines! Honestly we have incredible wines everyday at dinner and lunch. We taste through most of Steve’s lineup, young and old.

A long week, great food, & wine

IMG_3664Wow what a long week! The winery in total crushes around 200 ton a year, and so far we have brought in a little over 100 ton as of Saturday. Here is a picture of the white board we write on each day when we take samples. Every day we have to take Baume (which is the Aussie equivalent of Brix or sugar left in the juice), temperature, and make sure it smells good. Depending upon all of these variables, fermentation might be starting, in the process, or almost finished. Along the way we make additions, control the temperature, and practice cap management techniques. One thing to note is that about 90% of the winery is run on native or spontaneous fermentation, meaning we do not add yeast or inoculate the must. As most of you may already know, this can be a risk, and is not practiced by a large quantity of new world wineries. However, Steve has done this for many years and feels confident in it, which is half the battle. Here is a picture of a spontaneous ferment beginning on Pinot Noir.
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FullSizeRenderBecause the weather has been a bit cool, it took almost a week for this ferment to take off, and we actually had to do a very light initial pump over while we ran the juice through a heating jacket in order to “wake up the yeast.” When the must/juice is too cold, it is very difficult to ferment, so we must lightly warm the tank in order to get things moving. After fermentation gets going, we make sure the temperature does not go too high, and if it does maybe run the juice through some cooling jackets. Without getting into too much detail, its all about maintaining a steady clean fermentation, all in the effort to not produce off aromas and end up with a clean, healthy wine. Here is a picture of me doing some pump overs. If you check out our instagram @carharttvineyard, there is also a video of this process.

As we speak, we have finished two native red ferments, and have plenty to go. This coming week, we are looking to bring in around 60 ton or so, amongst dealing with all of the current fruit in the winery, so my work should be cut out for me.

In addition to work, we have also been drinking some great wine and eating some great food. We have had two more BBQ’s with the woofers. Here are some pics of the food. The first is a plate of salad, potatoes, bread, and kangaroo! I know it probably sounds strange to some, but because of their abundance on the mainland, it is a very common source of meat over here. It is almost 100% pure protein with no fat, so when we BBQ it we make sure not to over cook the meat as it will turn out very tough.
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These other pictures are of a lunchtime BBQ we had where we ate vegetable kebabs made mostly from stuff grown on the property, coupled with some potato salad, asparagus salad, pork sausage, beef, and pork tenderloin. Here is a picture of me right before we ate.
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There is also a picture of the deck where we cooked with the vineyard in the background, steaks on the BBQ, and Alessio with Thomas making some tapas.
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That is all for now. Stay tuned for more!

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Work Hard – Drink Strong!

A Day of Rest

Mount Wellington peak (1270 m)

Mount Wellington peak (1270 m)

Today is finally a day of rest for us before a long week ahead. On the weekends we still have to do a bit of work in the morning and afternoon, but for the most part we are free to do what we want. This will all change when harvest is in full swing of course, but for now I am trying to take advantage of the free time. Yesterday we had another sunny day in Hobart. We went to Salamanca market, a local bazaar in town, ate good food, and drove to the top of Mount Wellington, a peak (1270 m) which looks over the whole city. Here is a picture of us getting some beers. Changes in latitude don’t change some things… “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.”

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine

In the evening we got some dinner and drinks and then went out for a night on the town. I will not bore you with the details and pictures of the evening, but below is a picture of all of us in the back of the “ute” (our vineyard vehicle) at the end of the night!

The "ute".

The “ute”.

My First Week in Tassie

Me taking baume, or checking the process of fermentation.

Me taking baume, or checking the process of fermentation.

So the first week of work is basically finished. So far we have harvested and processed all of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling production. It’s been enoculated and is currently going through fermentation, or already finished. However, certain lots of the Chardonnay are also going through native (spontaneous) fermentation in new oak barrels in the downstairs cave. Here is a picture of me taking baume or checking the process of fermentation (drop in sugar) every morning. The native ferments are going really well and tasting incredible which is a positive testament to using native yeasts.


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At the beginning of the week we also brought in Pinot Gris.  We processed about 8 ton in one day, but allowed that juice a two day skin contact in the press before we pressed off. After the two days, we separated the free run, pressings, and hard press. Eventually it will all be barreled down together, but for now it is easier to see the differences and treat the harder presses with whatever they may need to maintain quality.

Alessio and I sorting fruit

Alessio and I sorting fruit

This week we also brought in some Pinot Noir from another vineyard across the way. Steve buys fruit from only two vineyards, which aren’t biodynamic, but he uses that fruit in a cheaper Pinot. Besides that everything is grown on site. Here’s a picture of Alessio and I sorting fruit.

In addition to all this we have been making small additions to the sparkling ferments, checking baume’ each day, and prepping for next week. Next week I am told we will be bringing in about 150 ton or so, which represents about 75% of the entire harvest!! It should be really long days, but that’s the life of a farmer and winemaker. When the fruit is ready, it’s ready, and we must do what we can to make the best wine possible.

The team eating dinner together.

The team eating dinner together.

Aside from winemaking, also living on the property are a group of woofers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) who work for free but get to live on the property and eat for free in exchange. It is basically a way to travel for free. They may stay as long as they please, no contracts. We had dinner at the house with them the other night. There is a Frenchman, Thomas, a German, Irinna, a Californian, Marissa, and and two Italians, Alice and Marta, all twenty something’s. It is so cool to be at a table with people from all over the world. My last experience with this was when I lived/worked in South Africa and would frequent the backpackers hostel there. It is refreshing to meet and discuss the world and all that it has to offer with people from different backgrounds. Everyone has something different to say, and I have always known it to be culturally enriching. In the end you may even have a friend to stay with in another country!!  This is a picture of all of us eating dinner together.

Oxtail gnocci and charcuterie plate... Yes, please!

Oxtail gnocci and charcuterie plate… Yes, please!

 

The food at lunch is equally delicious. They have a restaurant (Osteria) on site, and so Thursday through Monday we get lunch cooked for us! It is so delicious. Here’s a picture of some oxtail gnocchi we had alongside a charcuterie plate at lunch the other day. Tough life I know!

A Bit of Tassie Honey

A bit of homemade Tassie honey

A bit of homemade Tassie honey

Today we went into a small village outside of Hobart called Richmond. We saw the Richmond Bridge which is apparently the oldest bridge in Tasmania. We tasted some wine at a winery called Frogmore Creek, and we collected a bit of honeycomb from various hives that Steve has working on the property. Some of them have been making honey for the last two years! Below is a picture of one us getting honey out of the hives…

 

I’ve Arrived in Tasmania!

Front yard of the house looking over Derwent River

Front yard of the house looking over Derwent River

Well what a ride it has been so far. For many people, including myself not too long ago, Tasmania is not really on the radar. “Tassie,” as most locals and people in the know call it, is an island off the coast of Australia. So far it seems to be a step back in time with its beautiful rugged, and very wild landscape.

Same view from the house after rainstorm came in quite quickly

Same view from the house after rainstorm came in quite quickly

I decided to try and get a harvest job here because Tassie is a much cooler climate than the rest of Australia. In that way it is similar to the Santa Ynez Valley, and so they grow some excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Tasmania is also well known for their sparkling production, a craft I am particularly interested in studying. The winery I am interning at goes by the name Stefano Lubiana. It is about a twenty-minute drive north of the capital city Hobart. More of a distant suburb, Granton (the town I am in) is home to a whopping 300 people. It runs along the Derwent River, which I recently learned from Steve, the winemaker, is the second highest flowing source of fresh water in the southern hemisphere. The first would be the Amazon. Pretty amazing.

I arrived yesterday after a 24-hour trip from the states, and so far it has been warm, windy, and a little rainy. I don’t think it will be as dramatic of weather swings as South Africa was, but definitely a land in which layering of clothing is a smart move.

Cascade Brewery – oldest Australian brewery still functioning

Cascade Brewery – oldest Australian brewery still functioning

So to set the scene a bit, the winery produces roughly 13,000 cases. We grow Pinot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, a bit of Gruner Vetliner, Merlot, and Malbec. It is a biodynamic winery, which is really a subject in itself. The winemaker, Steve, and his wife Monique run the place. They have a right hand man Pat who has been with the team for about 10 years. I live in the house with Steve and his wife, and also an Italian intern named Alessio and his girlfriend Monia. Alessio worked here two years ago and is now back for a second harvest. He lives in Italy where he works full time making wine, but he has also done plenty of harvests abroad. All in all, everyone has been very nice and welcoming. We all work together, eat together, and drink together. I am very excited to try more and more Tasmanian wine. That’s all for now!

Tacos, Tacos, Tacos!

Tacos, tacos, tacos! This month’s wine pairing recipes are, you guessed it, tacos. Healthy, delicious, and oh-so-versatile, tacos are a natural for casual, California livin’! And…they pair wonderfully with both of our March wines: 2012 Zinfandel and 2011 Merlot. A tu salud!

Start with the freshest corn tortillas you can find. Into bowls, have pico de gallo, salsa, shredded cheese, guacamole or slices of avocado, chopped cabbage or lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, jalapenos, and any other garnishes you want.

For main taco filling, here are several ideas:
-Ground beef, turkey, or chicken sautéed with any taco spices, store-bought packet or homemade, even simple taco sauce.
-Shredded pre-cooked chicken (yours or the market!)
-Grilled fish of any kind (firmer is better), with southwest spices
-Black beans cooked with onion and salsa
-Chorizo, crumbled and cooked in an iron skillet
-Spiced and roasted veggies of choice, then chopped.

The combinations are endless, so use your imagination and have fun!

For assembly, warm the tortillas over the stove, or the grill, or even the toaster oven, but try not to dry them out. In the oven, a damp towel filled with tortillas and baked at a low temp works fine. Put all of the ingredients out on a table and let everyone make their own plates – simple, fun, and a crowd pleaser! Don’t forget the Zin or Merlot!

Risotto with Kale Pesto

(Serves 4 – for our vegetarian and/or vegan members!)

½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and divided
4 tblsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup dry white wine (Carhartt Sauv Blanc is great because you can drink the rest while cooking!)
2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed in a small saucepan
1 garlic clove
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, packed
3 tblsp. fresh chives, chopped
2 cups torn Tuscan kale leaves, packed and divided
2 tblsp. unsalted butter (or vegan substitute)
3 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (or vegan substitute)

Pre-heat oven to 350. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the walnuts, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (8-10 minutes) and let cool. For pesto, pulse the garlic and ¼ cup walnuts in a food processor until well ground. Add parsley, chives, half of the kale, 2 tblsp. olive oil, and ¼ cup water. Process until smooth, and add salt & pepper to taste. Set pesto aside. Meanwhile, heat 2 tblsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often until soft and translucent (6-7 minutes). Stir in the rice, season with salt and pepper, cook for about 4 minutes, coating the rice kernels.

Add the white wine and stir until the pan is almost dry, then by ladel-ful, stir in the warm broth and cook until almost dry, then add another ladel-ful, stir, and repeat until all the broth is used and the rice is cooked al-dente (still firm but not hard to chew). Stir in the pesto, butter, Parmesan cheese and remaining kale, adding a little hot water or broth if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with remaining walnuts and more Parmesan cheese as desired. This can be a side to any favorite grilled meat or an entrée with arugula salad and grilled radicchio. This dish will pair equally well with Zinfandel or Il Grande Gallo – your choice!! Bon Apetit Rascals!

Slow Cooker Italian Braised Pork with Polenta

(Serves 6- can start early in the day)

1 tblsp. olive oil
1 boneless pork shoulder (about 1 ½ pounds)
½ tsp. salt, divided
¾ tsp. black pepper, divided
2 cups onion, sliced vertically
1 cup sliced yellow bell pepper
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1 tblsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 tblsp. fresh chopped thyme
1 tblsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
1 cup 2% milk
¾ cup instant polenta
1 – 2 tblsp. Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with ¼ tsp. salt and pepper, add to pan and cook for 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer browned pork to slow cooker. To same pan, add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and more oil as needed. Saute about 5 minutes and transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add remaining salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and tomatoes. Cover and cook on LOW for 7.5 hours, then remove cover, add Worcestershire sauce and vinegar and cook uncovered for 30 more minutes. Turn off heat, wait a bit and then shred the pork with 2 forks. Re-cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, combine 2 cups water and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, slowly stir in the polenta and continue stirring with a whisk, cooking for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese and a little black pepper. Serve the pork over the polenta in shallow pasta bowls. Fantastico with Il Grande Gallo!!

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