This post is inspired by a comment question from Cathy. The question is.
Jacob- how do you keep track of what barrels are at what stage and what needs to be done? Are they bar coded? Tracked on a computer? It sounds like they move around a lot how is it tracked?
Well Cathy I am so glad you asked. A short answer would be that we track the barrels by bar codes and computers. Now for the long answer. Let me start from the beginning. Lets say a wine has moved from tank to barrel. First the wine maker chooses what barrels he wants the wine to go into. He might say something like, 25, 2012 barrels from such and such cooperage. 25, 2011 barrels from that cooperage, and 50 2010 barrels from a mix of these cooperage. The assistant wine maker then draws up a work order that gives the instructions and any special requests from the wine maker. The Assistant wine maker also assigns a “lot” number to the wine. He hands that to the cellar master who hands out the work order to a worker. The work order has a tracking number attached to it. If we type the work order number into the computer all the information we need comes up. What barrels were used, what wine went into the barrels on what day, etc. Once the barrels are filled, the forklift driver puts them away in a marked row. This is really up to the forklift driver since he has the best idea of where the barrels will fit. Since we are talking about a 100 barrel “lot” It may end up in two rows. But for now lets say it fits into one row. The forklift driver marks on the work order how many barrels went into what rows. He marks who filled the barrels and he also writes down any special notes or complications that may have come up during the fill. The work order is handed back to the assistant wine maker. Next the barrels are scanned with a scanner. The scanner tells the computer that these barrels are filled with this wine, and they are in this row. Since things are moving around so much right now it is impossible to scan everything each time it moves. This is when the “Lot” number is really important. Lets say we filled the barrels with Merlot. Well, we get Merlot from lots of different vineyards plus we may keep a certain vineyard section separate from another section of the same vineyard. For example Napa Caller Merlot from Carpenter Vineyards Block C, will be called B1203B Merlot from Bayview vineyards will be called B1207B. The next time we get a work order for one of these lots we know which Merlot the wine maker is referring too. We can check the computer to know, what analysis has been done or what work has been done to the wine. We can also check the computer and know what barrels are in the lots, and so forth. That is how we keep track of what has been done to the wine. I hope this answers your question and I know that its seems like a complicated process but really after working with it you begin to crack the code so to speak.Here are some pictures from around the barrel room. You can see barrels ready to be filled. also notice the lot numbers written on the barrels at the end of the row. This makes it easier for us when we are walking around the barrel room looking for a certain lot.
Examples of Barrel rows.
Barrels waiting to be filled
More barrels waiting to be filled.
Entering the labyrinth.
Living the dream~jacob
I finally got a chance to make a recipe that I had been wanting to try for weeks. My sister lives in Chicago and told me she had recently tried some appetizers that were based on a P,B and J sandwich but also included stinky French cheese and it was also served hot. This may sound unappealing at best but that’s why I wanted to try it. Plus… another excuse to drink Napa Cellars wine.
Sour Dough Bread
Assembly: Pretty straight forward, just put cashew butter on both pieces of bread, it sticks together better.
Butter both sides and Panini press it. Or you can toast it like a grilled cheese in a frying pan
Raclette cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are a good pair so that’s what I went with… ’ not an expert wine/food pair-er but it tasted great to me. You have to try this one, inexpensive and super easy to make, but lots of complex flavors.
Today I awoke to the sound of rain. Now my waterproof boots are soaked through. My pant legs are so wet my cell phone maybe broken. My sweatshirt has gained ten pounds. The pit with all of our crusher equipment has become a pond. There are puddles of water everywhere. All the over head pipes and cat walks have become waterfalls. I cant keep my notepad dry enough to write down the brix. No matter what you do you cant stay dry. Its now 5:30 am on a Monday morning. Days like these make me wish I was home next to a fire with a hot bowl of soup. Rain can be devastating to the grapes still on the vine. Its now time for some tough decisions for the wine makers. Back to the cold shower for me.
Living the dream~Jacob
Things are moving so fast around here. One day we receive grapes the next day its going in for residual sugar checks, (so it seems). All of a sudden it is in barrels and needs malolatic fermentation tests run on it. Suddenly its back in a tank. The barrel room is basically a labyrinth. New walls of barrels are moving back and forth. Rows are created and then taken down. One thing I have learned is that 3 guys on forklifts can move a lot of barrels in a very short amount of time. The wheel is still spinning around although it seems its spinning a little slower. We will see for how long. Tanks are still getting the usual treatment of Rack and returns and pump overs. However, less and less are needed. Next week we are picking what remains on the vines. Well, most of it anyways there are still some grapes out there that can hang out for a little while. That does not mean Harvest is almost over. Maybe the harvest picking part is over but there is still plenty to do around here. To be honest I am not sure how this puzzle is going to fit together. Let me explain, we have red wine going into a warm room for malolatic fermentation or what is known as secondary fermentation. That room is filling up fast. The Chardonnay are going through primary fermentation rather quickly. Which means they will need to get malolatic bacteria and go into that room soon. When a wine finishes second fermentation it goes back into a tank to get it off all the dead yeasts at the bottom. The barrels are cleaned, then the wine goes right back to barrel and stored for a while. So we will have wine going into barrel that has finished primary fermentation, wine coming out of a barrel going right back after secondary fermentation. And thousands of barrels that will be moving from one room to another then again to another room all in a matter of weeks. Not to mention the Chardonnay going through sur lie aging, which is allowing the wine to sit on the lees for while. I will get into more detail on this later. For now it has been a long long long past few weeks. and its time for me to go home.
Living the dream~Jacob.
Yesterday i was traded from morning crew to night shift. So after finally getting a full nights sleep for the first time in weeks, I woke up at a reasonable hour and accomplished some things that I had taken for granted when i worked normal people hours. Its amazing how long things get put off when you work every hour that other businesses are open. Being that i now start my shift at noon i was able to get a haircut and cash my last two checks. Sounds good right? But I would give that up in a minute to not have traffic on the way to work.
Six days out of the week. I wake up in my sleep. Before the sun rises rubb my blurry eyes. Gettin ready in a sleepy slumber, just a job I tell myself but its a bummer. I jump into my car, I really dont have that far. Driving down the road I barely see a soul. I drink my coffee from my cup, just to keep myself awake thats how much I need a break. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, they always go so slow. Thursday blows my mind, half way left to go. Friday is easy its just beyond my grasp. Saturday is the new friday I thought I would never last. Reality has a hold on me and it wont let go. I work all day and I try to save still there is nothing to show. What I wouldnt do to be unemployed rich and free. Someday I will wait and see not a thing to worry me. No more out late and night, I am waking up before the light. Is that really right? Or is my future painted bright?
I look at the dial against my will. Time seems to stand still. Mean while my mind is drifting far a way to a place where work is missing. I dream of a simple life without a care, I click three times but I am not thereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Living the dream~ Jacob.
Tank shoveling can be dirty business. Perhaps it is the most physical job in the winery. It requires crawling inside a dark, humid, wet, stinky tank and shoveling the contents out. No doubt shoveling wet berries, stems, and seeds is hard. However, being inside the tank you are standing in about 3-4 feet of fermented grape skins. The tank is wet and slippery its almost impossible to get solid footing. Once again the only way to get the contents out is through a small gate in the front of the tank. If this is not bad enough the fermented must is full of carbon dioxide, making the tank an oxygen deficient environment. Great precautions are taken when entering a tank of fermenting must. The tank is ventilated with a fan, the air is tested with air quality sensors, and a harness with oxygen sensors are worn by the person entering the tank. Another person known as the “attendant” waits outside with a large “hook” in case a person passes out inside the tank. The lack of oxygen causes a person to fatigue much quicker then usual when shoveling.Thankfully I survived to shovel another day. Here is a look inside a tank and a few shots of before and after. Special thanks to Rocha for the pleasant interview before risking my life.
Living the dream~ Jacob