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.

"Wine is liquid sunshine "
~ The Zen Winemaker ~

3 terms, 2 quotes, 1 question

October 8, 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 - Baby Wine

Harvest this year has been a little Yin/Yang - some fruit is weeks early and other fruit is weeks late. Normally high yields are lower and some low yield crops are higher. Mother nature keeps winemakers on their toes and we just have to be grateful for the bounty she provides us. And thank you to the dedicated people who lovely care for the vines.

So far this year we have processed 8000# (equivalent to 3 Kia Soul cars) of Petite Sirah, 8000# of Alicante Bouschet and 8000# of Graciano. We still have almost 20,000# of fruit in the vineyard - so we are about half way through harvest and the winery is a great place to come, see, experience and learn about how wine is made.
People tend to appreciate wine more once they realize how it is made and the labor involved.

Today we will talk briefly about how Red wine is made.

As the grapes ripen on the vine, the sugar levels increase and the acid levels decrease. The berries become more plump and darken. As the grapes reach optima ripeness, winemakers begin to schedule the pick date which is one of the most important actions a winemaker can make. All of our grapes are picked by hand by skilled people who meticulously hand sort the fruit in the vineyard keeping only the best fruit and discarding the rest.

There are 3 primary steps in making red wine.

Step 1:  Destemming

The first operation to make wine is to remove the stems which tend to be bitter in taste and leave a vegetative smell and taste to the wine. Hand filled bucket after bucket of grapes are slowly fed into the destemmer which uses a rotating cage and "fingers" to gently knock the berries off the stems. The whole berries fall into a fermentation container while the rachis (stems) are collected in a different container that will become compost.

We prefer to destem "whole berry" which does not crush the berries which enhances fruitiness, roundness and a more expressive wine. We add a little sulfites to stabilize the must (grape skins, seeds, and pulp that will be fermented) and add some tannins that acts as a antioxidant and antimicrobial until we achieve a vigorous fermentation.

Step 2: Pitch and Fermentation

Once the must his warm enough (above 65 F) we add yeast which is calling pitching . Thousands of different native yeasts are found everywhere and on every surface. Have you ever noticed the white powdery coating on grapes? That's yeast - the same kind that is used to make bread, beer, spirits and wine. However some yeast strains are better for making wine than others - this is why we add a specific yeast to ensure high quality.

For the first few days of fermentation, the yeast acclimate to their new environment and begin to multiply - and boy do they multiply rising up to around 160 Million cells / mL or 4.5 Trillion cells / oz. During this process they consume sugars and produce heat, alcohol and carbon dioxide.

When we harvest the fruit is contains about 25% sugar by weight which will produce a 14.75% ABV wine when finished. After about 10 days of fermentation, the yeast will have consumed all of the sugar and converted it to alcohol. Every few hours during fermentation we must stir the grapes and monitor the fermentation - just like tending to an infant - this can become challenging where we have many active fermentations going on at once.
What started as grapes and grape juice - is now infant wine.

Step 3: Pressing

We use a machine called a Press (go figure) that squeezes the must to extract the now infant wine from the solids. We us a very gentile press cycle sacrificing quantity for quality. 1000# of fruit will produce about 80 gallons of wine. The virgin wine is pumped into oak barrels for aging and the solids (now called pomace) i s composted.

In about 2 years, we will perform final blending and put the wine into bottle where it ages some more and eventually ends up on your dining room table.

P.S. If you are in the winery when we are pressing, you might even be able to taste baby wine right from the press.
Pressing 2021 Graciano @ Koi Zen Cellars
`This is where the magic happens`

2 - Quotes from Me:

1. "For every crest, there must be a trough" ~ The Zen Winemaker

2. "There will always be more - just as there will always be less than what we have" ~ The Zen Winemaker

1 - Question to ponder:

Seasons Change

I always seem to mentally have a rough time during the Fall.

I am not sure when or why is started, maybe even as a small child, but every fall I tend to get a little gloomy, a little bluer, and little sadder than normal. Which is funny because I really like Fall - the change of season, the end of harvest, and the settling down for winter.

I tend to become very introspective during the fall of where I have been, where I though I should be, and where I am. Often, these three never align the way they "should have."

As a child, in the fall, the honeymoon of the new school year had worn off and now the grind began as the days shortened, became colder, and people became more isolated.

During my corporate career, the fall was also 'Evaluation' time. Often I had 30-40 evals to write: what did you do right, what did you do wrong, where could you have done better, what are next years plans and expectations? Doing this was often painful when evaluating people you cared about and even harder when others criticized me for what I did or didn't do.

In corporate, and in life, we often want to move forward, to get ahead, to make progress and often look at what didn't work opposed to what did work . Our evaluations tend to be harsher and negative opposed to inspiring, motivational, and supportive.

Maybe this is just the way humans are wired - to look at what isn't versus what is. For me, I have found that focusing in on Gratitude helps.

What are those things, people, situations, stations and status that I am humbled by - that I am grateful for. Because the riches or life are not found it what is "out there" but what is "in here."  Within our hearts and minds and when we look at this - to study this and investigate this,  we often find that we

"live in the land of plenty."

What are you grateful for?

~~ Notice ~~

The things we do have, versus what we don't have.



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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