Bottled the 2021 Cabernet and Syrah in Sept. We had a bunch of wine rats (helpers) this year. Several were neighbors of Bill’s and, besides Tod, one was a friend of John T’s. Because of all the extra help, we finished bottling around noon — earlier than we’ve ever done before. Again, the Syrah was fantastic and the Cabernet is going to be really special.

Bill indicated that we were very low on topping for our 2022 Cabernet. The grapes came in smaller than average. Meanwhile, we did have some extra 2021 Cabernet that never went to barrel. Therefore, we voted to keep the 2021 topping and continue to use that for the 2022 Cabernet. Because of this, we were only able to bottle around 24 cases of Cabernet. On the other hand, we had over 28 cases of the Syrah so no one was complaining!

One note is that we dropped the ball a little on watching the pump as we pumped the Cabernet out of the barrel and into the tank. As the barrel’s weigh in excess of 500 lbs and the bottler works best if gravity fed, we pump the contents of the barrel into a stainless tank and then let it gravity feed the bottler. When we pumped the 2021 Syrah into the stainless, the wine was clear all the way to the end. Unfortunately, we discovered that the Cabernet had much more debris at the bottom of the barrel and so we ended pumping some of that into the stainless tank on accident. This meant the Cabernet was a little cloudy. Likely this will result in some sediment in the bottle.

You may recall from previous posts here that we have had trouble with sediment in other vintages – notably the 2019 Sangiovese which had so much sediment it would even clog our Franmara Wine Pourer with Built-in Filter. We resolved to rack more often to prevent this from occurring and we thought we’d racked the 21 Cabernet at least 3-4 times but no one is sure. We will keep the bottles with the corks up for a week before moving them to the wine cooler in hopes that the debris will stay at the bottom. We resolved to do better next time but, what can I say, we’re all gray haired now. John T is preparing a schedule for us to follow that includes more racking.

Some folks have looked at the pictures and noted that there was wine consumption happening very early on Saturday morning when we bottled. From all of us five guys, we hear your comments and suggest that you join us next time and see what fun it is to bottle at the Fiveguys Winery Bottling event.

Harvest 2023

Weather threatened to spoil the harvest (which was 2 weeks later than usual) this year but with the folks from Martin Ranch watching, we were able to get what we asked for which was same Cabernet as before from Martin Ranch but now we finally got Zinfandel from Solis-Frattelli Vineyard (through Martin Ranch). As in prior years, MR crushed for us and we brought the fruit ready for fermentation back in John T’s trailer to Bill’s garage. Fermentations all went very well – primary, secondary and malolactic – and finished without too much fuss. We got them both in barrel now and had the chance to taste in December. Both the Cab and Zin are going to be spectacular!