Zen Breath 3-2-1

Note: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to my weekly 3-2-1 newsletter or you subscribed to the Koi Zen Cellars newsletter. Every Friday, I share 3 wine terms, 2 quotes from me, and 1 question for you to ponder. Occasionally, I also send out long-form articles on habits and self-improvement.

"You always have a choice - make it good."

~ The Zen Winemaker ~

3 terms, 2 quotes, 1 question

August 27, 2021

Happy Friday! Time to wrap up this week and get ready for the next! Take a deep breath and kick off the weekend on a positive note. Let's consider where we have been, improve it, and move forward next week. Packing the most content into the least words and trying to change the world, one glass at a time.

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3 - Wine Terms - Winemaking Choices

During the winemaking process, yeast convert the sugars in the fruit into alcohol. It is a natural process that has existed for eons and the winemaker actually has very little control over what the trillions of yeast behave. However, the Winemaker does have a few key tricks to produce high quality wines.
  1. Location - I have often said: "Start with high quality fruit and you have a fighting chance of making a quality wine." Quality wine starts in the vineyard which includes the terroir (location based influences, wind, rain, soil, slope, temperature, etc) and the specific varietal. Some vines like dry roots and grow best in gravel soil such as Cabernet Sauvignon, while its cousin, Merlot likes to have its roots moist. Switch them around and the quality of the wine diminishes.

    At Koi Zen Cellars, it is my mission to source only the best fruit - were it grows the best and carefully bring it to the winery for production. People who own vineyards do not have this choice, but they do have the choice on what they plant and how it is maintained.
  2. When to Pick - one of the most significant choice a winemaker has is when to pick the fruit. All summer the fruit ripens where sugar content increases and acids decrease. Pick too early and the wine will taste like lemonade, pick to late and the wine will be flabby and boring. The pick date also affects the ripeness and flavors of the wine. Pick early and the wine will taste unripe, too late and it might taste like prunes.

    Selecting the proper pick time is complicated by the weather, the ripening evenness of the vineyard and the availability of pickers, shippers and general help. Over the last few years, the number of available workers have declined forcing some growers to use mechanical picking machines that often thrashes and destroys the fruit prior to being delivered at the winery.

    At Koi Zen, we only use hand picked and field sorted fruit. Cluster by cluster the fruit is evaluated and either goes into the bucket or onto the ground. Our performance specification of the fruit is extremely tight - but we also pay for that level of quality. Most of our picks are also done at night where the fruit is naturally refrigerated allowing us to start fermentation with cold fruit (never ferment hot fruit) and if it is not picked at night then we use dawn picks and stop picking by 10:00am.
  3. Fermentation - in the cellars the winemaker does have a wider range of choices to make including fermentation vessel, yeast selection, additives, adjustments, temperatures and cap management. Making a poor choice at this stage will greatly impact the quality of the final product.

    At Koi Zen Cellars, we use a very minimalistic approach to making wine which includes discarding stems which impart a bitter taste, use of whole berry to increase the fruit and approachability of the wine, gentle cap management with hand punch-downs often 3x per day. Also we use cultured yeast which has proven fermentation qualities and minimal adjustments. After fermentation the wine is gently pressed and all reds are aged in barrels for a minimum of 10 months - sometimes as long as 48 months just to give it that extra something something.

Our harvest will be starting in a few weeks and we hope you come by, check out the process, ask questions and just hang out with us. We would love to see you.

2 - Quotes from Me:

1. "Not making a choice is a choice." ~ The Zen Winemaker

2. "Every choice you have ever made, defines who you are right now." ~ The Zen Winemaker

1 - Question to ponder:


Last week we talked about feeding our brain with healthy information opposed to unhealthy information. Some of you made a CHOICE and accepted the challenge and I would love to hear your feedback - simply reply to this email.

If you did not take the challenge, I encourage you to do so - you can find the simple challenge here.

Every day you make thousands of choices - each choice takes you one step further down the path of life and the culmination of all those choices define exactly where you are in life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is hard for some people to accept this. They instead choose to blame things outside of themselves -- but that is their choice (abet poor and incorrect)

Obviously there are "good" choices, and there are "bad" choices. You can eat the cookie while on your diet, or you can drink a glass of water - but it is always your choice. Some choices are small - a smile, others are large - a house. We always remind our daughters (and ourselves) to "make wise choices."

Some people don't want to make a choice and just let things flow being pushed around by the currents of life; but not making a choice is still a choice.

Often when we are NOT Mindful , we lose the opportunity of making a better choice. Better choices lead to better results. Better choices are always available, sometimes you just have to look for them.

The other aspect of making a choice is to acknowledge your responsibility of your choice. You can choose not to pay your taxes, though you might go to jail - denying responsibility won't keep you out of the slammer.

When you realize that you are responsible for your choices, you will naturally make better choices - blaming anything outside of yourself is just wishful thinking. So take pride and be responsible of your choices - the small ones, the big ones, and the huge ones. You will make mistakes, we all do - and it is called learning .

Many small good choices lead to great things - even things you might deem impossible. Sometimes we KNOW we should make a better choice, but we don't - we all do this - it is integral to the human condition.

But I want you to think of 5 things that you know you should not do but you are and either stop doing them or reduce doing them for 7 days. Commit to it. Accept it. And make that positive CHOICE to change.

Will you accept this Challenge?

 I choose Yes
 I choose No

 I choose Not to Choose

~~ Notice ~~

The myriad choices you make each day and how many are automatic, habitual and often poor.



Darius Miller - The Zen Winemaker

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Author of a #1 best seller:
'The Zen Winemaker - Follow Your Dreams & Overcome Your Fears'

Creator of:

'The Zen Wine Tasting Journal - Life is too short to drink bad wine, or to wear ugly underwear.'

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