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.

"The BEST bottle of wine - is the one YOU like "
~ The Zen Winemaker ~

3 terms, 2 quotes, 1 question

March 4, 2022

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 - Types of Maturity

One of the most critical decisions a winemaker can make is to determine the pick date of the grapes, and let's find out why.

When baby grapes emerge in the spring they are small, green, hard, acidic and lack sweetness. This makes the grapes unattractive to animals - the grapes want to allow their seeds to mature before being eaten and distributed.

As the season progresses, the berries become plump and increase in sweetness. The acids drop and the protective tannins increase. The color of the grapes begin to change, which is call Veraison, telling the critters to pay attention because the fruit will be shortly available to eat.

Now comes the tricky part because there are two types of ripening that happen in the vineyard: sugar ripeness and phenolic ripeness which are very different.
  1. Sugar Ripeness : as the grapes mature, the sugar levels increase making the fruit sweeter. They do this by consuming the acids in the fruit and from the sunlight. More sunlight and heat will cause the fruit to ripen faster. If the nights do not cool off enough, the grapes will continue to consume the acids throughout the night leaving the grapes overly sweet and flabby.

    The higher the sugar level, the higher the alcohol. Winemakers use the formula: % sugar X 0.59 = % ABV as a rough estimate on the alcohol level in the finished wine. Winemakers typically pick fruit between 20% and 25% sugar.

    In hot areas (also based upon varietal) the fruit gains sugar very fast and is ready to pick before the phenolic ripeness can catch up.
  2. Phenolic Ripeness: I like to use the analogy of a 6' tall 5th grader. He is tall (high sugar) but still not mentally mature - he still needs time. Phenolic ripeness (also called physiological ripeness) governs the overall development of the flavors, colors, and textures of the fruit.

    Have you every had that beautiful plum that has no flavor? The sugars are there but it was picked before it had developed phenolic ripeness and doesn't taste very good.
"Start with good fruit and you have a fighting chance of making a quality bottle of wine"
~ Zen Winemaker

In hot areas winemakers struggle with maintaining acid levels (refreshing and causes you to salivate) and achieving phenolic ripeness (flavor) without the sugar levels becoming too high.

In cool regions, winemakers struggle to achieve enough sugar and flavor so the wines don't taste lean.

As an Urban Winery, I can source my fruit from wherever it grows the best and bring the fruit to the winery. This is why I source from Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, and Lodi.

Each grape has it's preferred climate, so I always pick fruit from where it grows the best to produce the best product I can.

Geek Note: In almost every other state and country, winemakers are allowed to add sugar to grapes prior to and after fermentation - but not in California.

2 - Quotes from Me:

1. "Every wine has a purpose - though it may be hard to find" ~ The Zen Winemaker

2. "Many manly men prefer sweet wines" ~ The Zen Winemaker

1 - Question to ponder:


A few years ago I told my twin 27 year old daughters that I would really like to spend a week (some time) with each of them every year (if possible) as a dad/daughter trip someplace.

Well I just returned from a week long inaugural vacation/experience with my daughter Kiersten where we toured New Mexico from Albuquerque to Carlsbad Caverns, to White Sands, and TnC (Truth or Consequences) . We hiked, we drove, we visited, we talked, we ate, we drank, and had a fantastic time together.

It was a great time to get to understand the life my adult daughter lives up in the Bay Area and the challenges she faces as she makes her journey though life.

We talked about jobs, careers, investing, possible marriage, houses, and possible kids. So often I wanted to jump in and offer advice, but chose to remain quiet (as much as a dad can do) and wait for her to ask a question opposed to me offering advice/example/experience/story.

I realized that all of my experience was based upon my journey through life and her path is different. It is her responsibility to navigate it, not mine. I want to be the guard rail, or stripe on the road versus the stoplight, speed bump, or speed limit sign.

She admitted that sometimes she didn't like 'adulting' and to be honest, neither do I sometimes.

I found that the more I LISTENED, versus FIXING the more I began to understand my daughter and the world she lives in. I felt more connected and part of her life and hope for many more trips in the future.


How often do you

Maybe there is a good reason we have two ears and one mouth.

P.S. I had the opportunity to spend a week with my other daughter Miranda last July in Hawaii where she pushed me to my limits and I achieved the IMPOSSIBLE . You can read all about it HERE.

Zen Giggles:

Why was the meditator staring at the bottle of orange juice?
Because its said concentrate

~~ Notice ~~

Notice how you react to other peoples conflicting opinions


A favor:

We strive to foster a community who are excited to learn about wine and create a better world for all. We are a small business and appreciate your support. Please encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and build the community of like minded people. And don't forget to give me some feedback on what you want to learn about - I love hearing from you.


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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