Praying for Brix

We have been measuring the brix a lot recently. About a week ago, they measured 20.5.  Today, they measured about 21.25.  They need to be higher.  Jim, our vineyard manager recommends we hang in there (I don’t think he intended to make the pun).  The forecast says for the next several days we can expect good day time temperatures, which aids in ripening and raising the brix; and cool night time temperatures which help the grapes keep the acids together.  Even though the air feels chillier, the sun is still close to the October harvest moon, so it is still pretty intense.

We are learning as we go, and Jim reminded us that when we take the brix, we are only measuring the sugars in the juice, and the skin and pulp of the grapes have sugars that are being missed.  After we harvest and crush, the sugars from the tissues of the grapes are released and we will get a truer reading.  That process is called the “soak-up.”  The difference between measuring brix from free juice  and and after the soak-up can be between 1 1/2 and 2 brix.

So – again, we are waiting and seeing, and gambling.  Lots of folks in the Valley harvested as soon as the weather reports predicted rain – earlier this month.  We all got some rain, but we and others bet that the rain would not continue, and so far we got lucky – it hasn’t.  We have to hope that we continue to get warm, dry days and hope that our grapes continue to ripen and the brix continue to climb.  If those things do not happen – we will not harvest this year. If they do – we could still have a great vintage.

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Our neighbors recently erected this beautiful windmill next door.  I’m loving it.  It is like the old wind powered water pumps that have been used since in the 9th century – originally in the areas that are now Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.  The one in the photograph doesn’t actually pump anything, but it reminds me of another time and place.  These delicate, but powerful little structures were used on farms, usually in the Midwest (I’m a Wisconsin girl, and hubby spent lots of time in Missouri) to pump water  – often from wells for cattle.  In 1930, there were about 600,000 in use and they became a symbol of rural America.

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The “wait and see” game

Today’s rain is not good news for our grapes. The president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Nick Frey, is quoted in Saturday’s Santa Rosa Press Democrat as saying that the overall crop yield for the 2011 harvest may be the smallest in seven years. The article said that as of a week ago, only about 20 percent of the grapes had been harvested.

We had lovely weather the past few days, and the forecast says we should be back up in the mid-80’s later this week, so we are waiting and seeing and hoping.

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