I'm curious how other home winemakers approach this question. This year, we harvested in three batches; a merlot-syrah combination, zinfindel, and cabernet sauvignon. We grow these in our front yard, and quantities are miniscule. We project the following quantities and optomistically anticipate the discussed qualities.
8-9 bottles of cabernet. Numbers were near-ideal; hydrometer said Brix approaching 25, refractometer said 23, TA .65 and pH 3.5. Must was delicious, and the few drops we've tasted suggest this may be decent wine, and certainly the best we have ever done.
10 bottles of merlot-syrah. Harvested together as they were ripe at the same time (or almost ripe, we should have left these another week.) Brix 22.2, TA .81 and pH 3.3. Again, must was delicious; incidental tasting since fermentation began suggests slightly acidic wine, but we hope it will be fairly good.
22 bottles of zinfindel. Brix 18 (chapitalized to 23), TA .76,, pH 3.3. Again, should have left them a little longer. We have to try to improve our sampling technique. Our pre-harvest sample hat TA at .60 and pH at 3.4, which suggested it was time... The zins suffered from too much fruit, we should have done a green harvest. Must not quite delicious before added sugar. Color is not as dense as the others, Tastes OK...
I would consider mixing all together, hoping for a drinkable wine to serve friends with dinner. Pam is the head winemaker, however, and she wants to produce absolutley the best wine she can, no matter how small the quantity. So, unless things change between now and bottling, we're going to have 8 bottles of pretty good cab, 10 fair bottles of merlot-syrah, and 22 bottles of zin that hopefully will pass as wine.
What would you do?
And other questions...
We have done malolactic fermentation on the merlot-syrah and zin batches - easy decision with the low pH. What about the cabs? pH 3.5 and TA .65.
We have been learning mostly from Jeff Cox's From Vines to Wines. Working from his pruning reccos, we left 10 or so buds per cane. We failed to do the reccoed greeen harvest; on our zins, this resulted in about 22 bottles from 5 plants. Looking to next year, how should we adjust? Leave only 5-6 buds and green harvest 10 - 20 % of clusters, or keep ten buds and green harvest 30-40 % of clusters? Any growers willing to share an opinion?
Owner, Millcreek Vineyards
(The prettiest vineyard in the Salt Lake Valley)