Some of us Binghams, that would be seven of us, went to Grayson County College’s recent enology outreach program, “Knowing Your Wine on the Vine – gauging harvest maturity and berry sensory assessment. Part of T B Munson Viticulture Enology Program. OK, we did NOT make up the whole class – – just a large part of it.
Here is a picture of our good looking hosts and instructors for the class.
On Saturday we heard Dr. Roy Mitchell (second from the left) explain his methods for traditional measurement techniques and benchmarks: ph, TA, Brix, and the new one, Yan. Which leads up to one of my projects for this week which will be organizing our small office building to make room for lab equipment, so it doesn’t have to continue to be strung out all over my kitchen.
Next we heard from Dr. Erika Winter who came all the way from — Australia. She is one of the coauthors of Winegrape Berry Sensory Assessment in Australia.
This is her beautifully illustrated book explaining “berry sensory assessment (BSA) which is an additional tool to assess the characteristics of wine grapes for their degree of maturity and possibly for their suitability for a wine style. Wine industry practitioners have in the past regularly tasted wine-grape berries prior to harvest but this book describes a formalised process that can provide both tools to obtain more consistent information for decision making, and a common language across the industry. BSA complements, but does not replace all the important measurements of berry sugar concentration, acidity, pH, and colour, as well as skin and seed phenolic analysis.” — Whoosh, I just quoted all that from the book because I am definitly just a beginner in this.
By the way, we sure have met a lot of Aussies lately. My family went to my niece’s wedding in Katy this last spring which was attended by over 40 Aussies who flew over for the wedding. Wow, that was a great time!
So, back to the class. On Sunday morning, the class went out to our vineyard for samples, and — well to be honest I was late to class that morning – I am not sure what all they discussed out there. I had the shortest distance of anyone to get there, and I was still late. I did have several children to get lined out for the day and preparations for the evening to come to take care of. More on that later.
After I got there, there was some talk about the orientation of the rows. This vineyard is planted in rows going from south-east to north-west. The angle was chosen because we are trying to achieve maximum sunlight to the vines in the morning balanced with maximum shade in the afternoon/evening. This photo is in the morning showing the shadows. There was also a lot of talk about the ratio of leaves to grapes in terms of producing the best quality grapes for the best quality wine.
About 5 days before these pictures were taken on the 12th the grapes had started verasion which would be defined as when the grapes start to change color. With red grapes that is easier to see – they start turning from green to red or blackish red. The “white” grapes turn from green to amber yellow. It really does also signal that the grapes are in a shift in the development of the grape, a different growing stage which is a stage of ripening.
Our classroom space was graciously hosted by Llano Estacado Winery. Greg was nice enough to give us a tour of the winery.
We had several wine makers in the group so there was discussion in the lab that went a little over my head.
A look at their old tank rooms. Well they don’t look “old” to me, but they have been around longer, OK.
and a look at their new tank room. Has the look of modern art to me.
Yes, Gary Elliot of Driftwood Vineyards was there in full force, as funny as ever.
Here was our classroom setting at Llano …
where we started to actually “taste” wine grapes for hands-on practice. After we finished up the class for the day we bribed our teachers and said that if they didn’t give us a test we could go have a party instead.
So several friends from the seminar and some friends who were early for the TWGGA board meeting the next day, came over to our house for dinner. Of course whenever you get that many growers and winemakers together for conversation, it does turn into quite a wine tasting and discussion of the wines.
It was a really fun evening with lots of laughter.
We even had a little evening music from the children. Then we moved inside for more music with the children and Cliff on the piano. And lots more conversation and laughter. Just a really nice day.