Tag Archive for: chardonnay

Chardonnay + Sangiovese Harvest 2018

Saturday, July 28, 7:00 am

21724 Hill Road, Salado (I-35 exit 275, head east on Hill Road, look for vineyard on the right)

Make your Instagram friends super jealous! Come pick grapes with us at the vineyard at 21724 Hill Road, Salado, TX! You can even eat some straight from the vine! Harvest is family friendly. Wear comfortable, cool clothing and tennis shoes. You’ll want to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and bug spray. We’ll provide everything else you need. We will start bright and early at 7am and go until all the grapes are picked.

Hecho en Queso will be at the vineyard offereing breakfast tacos for sale.

After harvest in the morning, you can join us at the winery to watch grape processing. Our grapes will be de-stemmed and crushed using a machine then pressed and prepared for fermentation.

This will be the first half of the 2018 harvest at our vineyard.  The cabernet sauvignon + merlot harvest will be scheduled in August.


12th Annual Chardonnay Harvest, Saturday, July 22

Come pick grapes with us at the vineyard at 21724 Hill Road, Salado, TX! You can even eat some straight from the vine! Harvest is family friendly. Wear comfortable, cool clothing and tennis shoes. You’ll want to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and bug spray. We’ll provide everything else you need. We will start bright and early at 7am and go until all the grapes are picked….#Wineryboy has been picking grapes since he was 1!

Hecho en Queso will be at the vineyard offering breakfast tacos for sale.

After harvest in the morning, you can join us at the winery to watch grape processing. The grapes will be de-stemmed and crushed using machines then prepared for fermentation. By late afternoon we will add the yeast and alcohol formation begins!

Invite your friends and follow the chardonnay harvest on facebook


get your tickets for taste of salado before they sell out

Artwork by Chelsea B. Allison

SATURDAY, February 27th, 2016, 6 to 9 pm

Please join us for an evening of tastes to savor from Salado’s finest B & Bs and Inns as well as our curated art auction featuring original pieces of art from Salado’s talented artist community.  Seating is limited so reserve your tickets early.Each ticket purchased includes one glass of wine from Salado Wine Seller, a taste from recipes created by each of Salado’s B & Bs and Inns, and a chance at a drawing.
Jack’s Barn. 535 Pace Park Road. Salado, TX 76571 – View Map

TICKETS https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-salado-2016-tickets-19620894624?aff=es2

ORGANIZER Public Arts League of Salado

The Public Arts League of Salado was formed in 2002 with
the mission of promoting public arts and artists in the
following four ways:

  1. Identify objects and activities of current and historical distinction
  2. Provide information and education about the arts in Salado and elsewhere
  3. Obtain grants and moneys to fund public arts projects in and around Salado
  4. Ensure that Salado’s public arts are presented and maintained appropriately

Artwork by Chelsea B. Allison

Winemaking–June 2015

My Production Control Board

My Production Control Board

It is at this point every year that I say, “ohmigoodness!  time to bottle the wine before harvest gets here!  Harvest is about 8 weeks away and we need to empty the tanks so that we will have space for the 2015 harvest–which might be big due to all that rain we received in May 2015.

So the last couple of days I have been ordering corks, labels, bottles, capsules and oak in order to have the supplies ready for bottling.  Ouch!  This is when it is tough to be an entrepreneur.  These things cost REAL money folks.  And we will be selling this wine late 2015-2016 and maybe even 2017, so it takes a long time to recover that investment in inventory in the wine industry.

Part of the decision making process is crafting a product matrix that makes good sense.  What I mean is that as a business owner, I think about what portfolio of wines I want to offer in order to make wine drinkers happy and maximize profit.  I feel strongly that I need a dry white, a couple different dry reds and some sweet wine.  We have some dessert wines that we produce as well, but I will not be working on those in the next couple of months, so they are not included in this discussion.  So my goal is to produce Night Flight, Diamond Back, Big Bully and Rootin’ Tootin’ for sale at Salado Winery Company at about $20/bottle and then to produce three varietal based reds for 3 Texans Vineyard at 3 different price points.  Based on my experience selling wine over the last 10 years, I decide on how to blend the wines and price them.  Since I often do the selling myself, I have quite strong opinions about what wine drinkers are looking for.

We are a bit behind in trying to get 2014 Night Flight bottled.  It needs to be cold stabilized and that is time consuming.  We are nearly out of it though, so that is the most pressing work to be done.

The 2014 Diamond Back is a blend of 40% cabernet sauvignon and 60% merlot.  The wine has been blended and we have started doing taste tests with various folks.  We will use a combination of American and French oak with this wine, both will be medium toast.  Some folks preferred the American which had strong flavor up front and some preferred the French which was a little more subtle and let the berry fruit notes of the cabernet shine through.  As winemaker, I make the final decision–yeah me!  I’ve got a fair amount of this Diamond Back wine on hand to sell, I still have plenty of the 2013 to sell too therefore I want a dry red blend that will appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers.  So I will use 25% American oak to get just a bit of that flavor up front, during the initial swallow and 75% French oak to give the subtle notes more boost and help carry the fruit flavors through to the end.

The 2014 Rootin’ Tootin‘ needs a little citric acid added to it, probably about .5g/L to give it a little punch.  Since it is warm much of the year here in Central Texas, I like to make wines a wee bit tart, then serve them very cold.  I think a wine like that tastes very refreshing that way and this wine is for folks that like their wine on the sweet side.

The 2014 Big Bully still needs to be made!  I need to play with various combinations of tempranillo and malbec to see which blend is the best, then we need to see how much tempranillo we want to allocate to the blend vs. how much of the single varietal we want to bottle for 3 Texans Vineyard.  I also can backwards plan by predicting how much Big Bully I think I can sell.  It will likely  be oaked with a little more American oak than the Diamond Back because we want to ensure that they have a very different flavor profile.  I am inclined to make a 50-50 blend, but there is much, much more malbec so it is a tough decision to decide how much to blend.  Malbec can be a tricky sell since some wine drinkers really hate it! I am not sure why, but some people will not try even try a Malbec, so I am worried about the large amount that we’ve got on hand.

The 2014 3 Texan Cabernet Sauvignon continues to be my darling.  We have tried this with American medium toast, French medium toast, & Hungarian medium toast, but our favorite so far is the French heavy toast.  We tried this with the chef from Classic Catering yesterday and he was extremely excited about it.  He felt that the heavy toast was a much more unique flavor in this wine, almost like cinnamon.  I complained to him that the heavy toast oak costs an awful lot more, but he proposed a great idea.  He said I should try pre-selling it, so that is what we are going to do.  We will have a sample available on Thursday night, July 2nd during the art opening reception and we will take pre-orders at a discounted price. Hopefully I can sell enough through pre-sales to purchase some heavy toast French oak and make this a terrific bottle of wine with a full retail price of $39.95.

In our preliminary taste tests, we liked medium toast American oak with the 3 Texan 2014 Tempranillo and medium toast French oak with the 3 Texan 2014 Malbec.  This needs to be tested in another round of testing with the folks at 3 Texans Vineyard!

Then all of the bottling needs to be scheduled.  I’ve ordered corks and capsules for all of this wine, but I did not order all of the bottles or all of the labels.  I could not order all of the labels yet because we haven’t decided the allocation for Big Bully.  Plus the labels are actually the most expensive part and just like my MBA professor said, CASH IS KING.  I also didn’t order all of the glassware either.  The pallets of bottles take up too MUCH space and we need lots of messy available work space for harvest.  Luckily Salado Winery employees are taking their vacations early in the summer, so all this bottling will be done when they are back.  So there you have it.  Bottling operations at a winery involve cashflow, space planning, materials, time available and after that, we still have to deal with Murphy’s Law. 🙂

Hope to see you soon!

Mid-May 2015 in the vineyard

lots of rain and healthy grapes!

lots of rain and healthy grapes!

There was a break in the rain yesterday, so I went out and worked in the vineyard for a few hours.  I tucked vines up into the trellising, I pulled leaves in the fruit zone to improve air circulation, and I removed shoots that had little to no grapes on them as they are not needed.

Spring 2015 has been the wettest one in many years.  I am having flashbacks to 2007 when there was local flooding.  Other than hail, the main threats to our winegrape crop are downy mildew and grape berry moth.  We are managing both so far, but the forecast is for more rain, so we are crossing our fingers!

April 2015 in the Vineyard

look at these Mommy!

look at these Mommy!

Me and my helper, #wineryboy are keeping a close eye on the grapes as they develop this spring.  We have received plenty of rain, so the vines are growing like crazy.  The grapes are just tiny little balls, preparing to bloom.  In another week or two, they will be tiny blossoms. Domesticated grapes self-pollinate, so if the bees are on vacation, no big deal.  This is not true for wild mustang grapes which have a male and a female plant which have to be nearby for pollination to happen.

The biggest salvo that Mother Nature can throw at me right now is in the form of mildew.  I refer constantly to the chart at winegrapes.tamu.edu to keep up-to-date with a good fungicide program.  The next biggest threat is springtime hail.  There is nothing we can do for that, so we hold our breath and gulp our wine when the skies get dark.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-t3CU_iG8yoM/VTMi1LzyAoI/AAAAAAAB7ps/wsAV7IhtDX8/s144-c-o/2015-04-18_22.20.38.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/102153593012294996679/20150422?authkey=Vp9eqZr2kn0#6139289014134506114″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”2015-04-18_22.20.38.jpg” ]

Racking The Wine


Racking good wine out of carboy and topping off barrel below. The sediment in the carboy will be left out of the wine and discarded.

So what’s next for wine making at Salado Winery Company?  We’ve fermented the 2014 harvest, pressed the wine out of it and now we’re doing the first racking.  What’s racking?  Essentially we are siphoning the wine OFF of the gunk.  Lots of bits and pieces were missed by the first rough filtration that we did as the wine came out of the press.  Also sediment is formed from the proteins in the grapes, that and other molecules join together and fall out of suspension.  If you look closely at my picture, you can see in the glass carboy the sediment that has fallen to the bottom.

The biggest contributor to the junk on the bottom is dying yeast cells.  As fermentation ends, all the sugar has been consumed and the yeast dies.  The last remaining yeast release enzymes to break down anything left to eat–basically the dead yeast cells on the bottom.  Well the biologists call this “autolysis” and for us wine drinkers, that can mean that the broken down yeast produces off flavors, or in other ways, breaks down our wine and we don’t want that!  Finally, racking helps to clarify the wine, or in other words, it helps the wine look more clear.

After we remove the yucky part, then there is space left in the container.  That means we have to “top off” all the containers and that is exactly what is happening in this picture.  This is a gravity siphon and the good wine in the upper part of the carboy is being removed from the gunk in the lower part.  The wine is being used to fill up the barrel below.

The concept is simple, but this process has been quite time-consuming this year due to the large harvest.  I am not complaining though, it is far better to have too much blessing than too little!

Chardonnay Harvest on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

picking grapes is easy

picking grapes is easy

 Harvest begins at our vineyard on Wednesday, August 6th at 7:00 am and we welcome you to join us! The vineyard is at 21724 Hill Road, Salado, TX, 76571.

Wear sunscreen, bug spray and a big hat.  If you have a favorite pair of pruners then bring them, but we’ll have plenty for you.  Dress for heat, but be prepared for anything.  I recommend shoes and socks because sometimes there is pigweed that stings or a hidden ant mound and I prefer a little protection for my toesies, but you can wear sandals if you like.  Sometimes folks like to wear light cotton gloves, that might help prevent wasp stings, but there are no thorns, so gloves not required.

Families are welcome, the work isn’t hard, just the heat can be a bit discouraging.  We will pick until all grapes are harvested, usually around 11 or 12 noon.

If you’re coming, text your RSVP to 254.466.5813, and I will let you know if the plan changes.  Otherwise, see you there!

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-02o0vnPdOhE/U9exu-ko7XI/AAAAAAABjPY/wSbnMfLr3fY/s144-c-o/CAM01843.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/102153593012294996679/201407302?authkey=-J8BIktSVaQ#6041492845769583986″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”CAM01843.jpg” ]


Test for Ripeness #3

I strain the juice, blend it and then look through the refractometer or put it in a hydrometer

I mash the grapes, strain the juice, make sure it is blended and then look through the refractometer to measure brix or I put it in a hydrometer

There are many factors I take into consideration when determining when to harvest.  I like to evaluate the grapevines, the grape clusters, the seeds and then evaluate the color, smell and taste of the grape juice.  Then I have to take into account the weather before and during proposed harvest, labor available and set the date for harvest.  Weekends are generally a better time to harvest because more volunteers can help.  Next I need to make sure the winery side of everything is ready to process and ferment the grapes.  In other words, when I am not running around the vineyard yelling at birds, I am inventorying the wine making materials, ordering yeast and looking at the maintenance of the pump, crusher and de-stemmer.  It has been said a million times, “great wines are made in the vineyard”.  If I don’t get this first part correct, then I may as well just go home! Nothing is more frustrating than working with substandard wines.

Last night I took a good look at the grapes in Three Texans vineyard.  I collected grapes samples and processed them this afternoon.  Looks like Tempranillo is still winning the ripeness race.  In testing, I found them to have 22 degrees Brix and pH 3.65.  Good color, a little light on taste, but definitely in the mellow plum direction. Starting to feel that bit of zing that tannins can add to the wine. Some grapes were still a bit harder, and some were soft and ripe. Same with the seeds, some beige and a few green.  In the vineyard I saw some rachis and peduncle browning, but these grapes could definitely hang for another week or two.  So harvesting on Saturday, August 9th would be a great idea, but looking at the long-range forecast, they are calling for an 80% chance of rain on Friday, August 8!  So I think that these grapes should be harvested on Wednesday or Thursday August 6-7.

Next I examined the Malbec.  These grapevines look a bit riper in the vineyard.  The grapes have almost no green left in them.  They were easy to pull off, soft, juicy and easy to mush.  I thought maybe they had jumped ahead of the Tempranillo in ripeness, but when I looked at the sugar, I got 20.8 degrees Brix and pH 3.51.  It still had a bit a of apple cider like tartness and had a few green seeds, so it needs a couple more weeks.  I am predicting August 16 for these grapes.

Then the Cabernet Sauvignon from Three Texans.  Cab seems to be the worst variety for uneven ripeness and had many green grapes still sprinkled about.  I did see a bit of peduncle and rachis browning.  For flavors I was tasting a very cherry or raspberry note which indicates that it needs more time.  (see https://winegrapes.tamu.edu/grow/ripening.pdf for reference) I was surprised to see 20.4 degrees Brix, but the pH was only 3.26, so I would like to see these grapes hang 3 more weeks to ripeness.  A good ripe Cabernet Sauvignon will make a better wine and fetch a higher price.  If it is harvested too early, it might as well become Rootin’ Tootin’.

This morning I took a good look at my vineyard.  First I sampled the Chardonnay.  The grapes are starting to become translucent with a light golden hue.  Starting to see brown peduncles and rachis.  When I smashed the grapes, I had great brown seeds.  So I was surprised to only measure 20.4 ° brix and pH 3.55.  Given the state of the vines, the taste of the juice (starting to get mango) the darkness of the seeds, I will probably plan to harvest these grapes just before next week’s rain.  In other words, I will harvest them on August 6-7.

The Merlot in my vineyard is starting to look ripe as well, but I have some problems with uneven ripening on the ends.  I saw some peduncle browning and so I was disappointed to see how many green seeds I still had and to have only 18.7 °brix and pH 3.38.  The taste was also a bit unripe. So this will probably wait until August 13-17, assuming that rain is going to fall on August 8th and that there isn’t much rain after that.

I couldn’t detect much difference between the aromas of the wine grapes, but there is quite a bit of difference in color and flavor of the juice.

a few more green seeds than we want to see

Tempranillo, a few more green seeds than we want to see

chardonnay on the right--nice ripe seeds

chardonnay on the right–nice brown ripe seeds

Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, second row is Chardonnay then Merlot   Big differences in color, small variation in aromas

Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon second row is Chardonnay then Merlot
Big differences in color, small variation in aromas





When is Harvest 2014

merlot & chard from our Salado vineyard

merlot and chard from our Salado vineyard

I am getting anxious for harvest!  The yeast is on order and I am ready to start soon, but when!?!

Tested Chardonnay yesterday and got pH 3.45, Brix 19.5, tastes like a pink lady apple!

So here goes the tentative plan…

I’m expecting activities to kick off on Saturday, August 2nd.

Right now I’m expecting Belle Crest to harvest tempranillo on Saturday, August 2.  I would like to test their grapes again on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, July 26 or 27th to verify that they have been ripening as projected.  Right now the 10 day forecast has a significant chance of rain for Friday, August 1st.  This could be a bad thing because the grapes tend to soak up the water quickly.  Last year it rained 48 hours prior to picking our merlot and I was very disappointed as the resulting wine was too watery.  So this may throw a monkey wrench in the plan, or the 10 day forecast could be wrong (but I sure would welcome the cooler temps).  Journey Vineyards will bring their grapes as well for processing, so I must remember to keep them informed.

I am likely to also pick the chardonnay in our vineyard the same time, August 2nd.  I am torn because the flavors are getting to where I want, but the Brix isn’t quite there.  So they could easily hang a little longer than that.  If we get rain, I will definitely push that harvest to during the week.

On Saturday, August 9th we’re expecting Belle Crest to harvest malbec.  We may harvest our merlot as well.  The malbec will be the biggest amount coming at one time, so we may push the merlot off so that we don’t have too much to process.  I want to process the chardonnay and have it out of the way prior to the malbec arriving.

The cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese still have a while to go in my vineyard, so maybe the 16th or 23rd.

Stay tuned!