Crush 2011 – Part 3 – Estate Norton

We finished our third and final harvest for the year. The norton grapes here on the vineard have had a really hard time this year. Not only have we had a record breaking summer with so far over 44 straight days over 100 degrees, but it is the worst drought on record for Waco, Tx. The grapes however are very tolerant of heat, drought, disease, etc, they are probably the best grape I have growing that seems well suited for all that Texas can throw at it.

We had a small problem in our irrigation lines that was not detected until far into the summer that was causing the grapes to get only half of the water that was being supplied. We had a underground pvc pipe bust, probably because of the dry ground breaking/shifting. But it effected how much water the berries were getting. They turned out to be smaller than usual and if we did not harvest when we did, they were on the verge of all turning to raisins. Not only that, but because of no rain, the birds/wasps/grasshoppers were a factor. They like to drink from the berries. We had 4 rows of grapes that were picked clean. Only the rows closest to the road were saved.

To sum up, we were expecting around 400 lbs of grapes, and we only got about 180 lbs.

They have been sitting in the fermenter for a week now, and we are pressing later today. I let these ferment at a higher temperature in the hopes of capturing some of the spiciness that the heat should provide. So I tried fermenting at 80 degrees F.

The grapes being a little more concentrated/shrivled than last year were harvested at 23.5 brix.

All in all, I much prefer the warm weather instead of HOT, and a little more rain. I would say that unless this wine turns out to be just spectacular, it will not be as good of a year as last year. But as this is the first time dealing with these extremes, I could be totally wrong, and it could all be a very good thing.

Time will tell!

2 comments to Crush 2011 – Part 3 – Estate Norton

  • tdlc

    Hi again Jeff. Can you explain your malolactic fermentation process? do you allow to happen naturally or do you intervene? thanks. tony

  • Jeff Beavers

    I allow it to happen naturally. If the wine wants to go malo, I do not stop it. I do however, usually add some malolactic bacteria from lalvin on the first batch of wine that I make. Then as I make my other batches, I add a half a cup of the first batch to all the rest of the batches, so I do not have to buy as much malo. It gets darn costly! I would not mind so much if it were only 50c a packet like the yeast!

    Even my white wines I make, I do not stop the malo if it starts. But then again, I do not like light fruity white wines.

    The main reason I do not try to stop it is because I do not want to have to mess with extra rackings in the spring or later on if the process decides to spontaneously start. Or worse, start in the bottle. I’d rather let the wine do all it “wants” to do, then adjust the acids later if necessary with tartaric acid.

    Now that said, I have only had 1 batch of wine that the malo ruined the wine. At least I am going to blame the malo anyway. It tasted fine just after the primary fermentation, but after the secondary (when the malo started), it started developing very off flavors like beer smell and aftertaste. But that was from a natural malo fermentation. Since then I try to use a half a cup from existing batche when I want malolactic fermentation to take place.

    If you really want to stop or avoid a malolactic fermentation, after the primary just add in 250–500 ppm of lysozyme. That will stop the malo cold. If you do not like to add chemicals, you can cold stabilize the wine, filter, and add in meta. That usually will take care of it also.

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