Friday, December 13, 2013


With several wines selling out in the tasting room we are working hard to get the 2013 vintage to bottle! If you have ever wondered how wines get so crystal clear here is part of the answer. In one of the last steps before bottling we have been filtering our 2013 Linoma Lighthouse and a new wine - Midnight Gold. In the pictures below you will see our plate filter and  some before and after shots. Along with making the wine more clear and radiant, filtering takes out any potential remaining yeast to help avoid re-fermenting of the wine in  the bottle, plus it takes out any fruit debris still in the wine.

If all goes well the, much anticipated, Linoma Lighthouse should be out in January along with 2013 Treno.  Midnight Gold a dessert wine should be ready in early 2014 as well.

Happy Holidays!

The Wine Awaiting Inital Filtering
The Filter

Midnight Gold BEFORE 1st Filtering

Midnight Gold AFTER 1st Filtering - Note the "fog" is from dry ice

Midnight Gold AFTER FINAL Filtering - You can see how its name was derived!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Barrel Work!

We are excited at Cellar 426 to introduce barrel aging to our winemaking regiment. In past years we have used oak cubes to oak our wines. The cubes have done a great job in our Soliel and Big Bold Red and are a fraction of the cost. For a young start up winery that is huge.  But for this year we wanted to make the jump and do some wine with barrels.

This week we barreled our Big Bold Red which is an estate blend of Frontenac and Marquette.  The two barrels we are using for this wine each has a different makeup to it. This will allow us to see which one we feel turned out the best wine and which way we want to go in future years. We will be aging the wine in the barrels until mid to late summer 2014.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Harvest Update

We've been working feverishly the last 5 weeks as the grapes have been coming in each weekend. As of today we have everything  in from our vineyard at the winery and are just awaiting the final grapes of the season, Chambourcin,  from our growers, the Bergmeier's at Cambrian Ridge Vineyards near Auburn, NE. Chambourcin is always a late season harvest and it looks like they may come in either this weekend or next depending on the latest numbers from the vineyard.  Chambourcin is what makes our popular Rocky's Red wine as well as our Soliel.

Here are some photos of what has been happening in the cellar since my last post:

We've been working on a beautiful dessert wine and it looks,smells and tastes wonderful. Hopefully we can get that out for the holidays!

Brianna is done fermenting.

Our Marquette is harvested, fermented, and has been pressed off.

Marquette grapes awaiting harvest

Here is what is left after the Marquette has been pressed.

Here Richard is punching down the cap on the Frontenac during fermentation.  This gets done 3 to 4 times a day as a thick cap of skins forms and you want to push them back down into the juice so the flavors and tannins from the skins can work their way into the wine. By the way he generally tries to color coordinate his shirts to the wine he is making!

During harvest there are many late nights. After a late night press Richard is cleaning the press with hopes of eventually catching some sleep. All in the name of good wine!
 Finally here is a glimpse of our new barrels that just came in. These will be for our 2013 Big Bold Red.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brianna Begins Fermentation

Continuing from where I left off on our last posting....The Brianna finished up the cold soak and was readied  fermentation. We racked the juice off all the "sludge" that settled off the grapes while they were enjoying their cold bath. We then prepared the yeast and some nutrients and added those on Wednesday evening.  With our return to the cellar 24 hours later  we noted that fermentation had already commenced. We will keep an eye on the fermentation, adding some more nutrients and other goodies along the way as the sugar is turned into alcohol and the wine is born!
 Preparing the yeast in water. Temp is important thus the temp probe.
Wine is slooooowly added to the yeast so the yeast can acclimate to the substantially lower temperature. You don't want to shock the yeast.

By Thursday evening fermentation had begun. I know it doesn't look pretty, but everyone seems to love the wine that will come from this! The brianna will go into our Treno.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Harvest Has Begun

Harvest began in earnest this past weekend as the Brianna was brought in from our vines. It was good news and bad news with the Brianna.  The good news we harvested 3,000 lbs, which is up over last years paltry 900 pounds and our prediction of  1,750 lbs.  The bad news...we harvested 3,000 lbs of Brianna.  I only say bad news because Brianna is our toughest grape to harvest. Being on the taller side and this grape growing utilizing the vertical shoot position method of trellising provides a challenge. There is a LOT of bending over and my back today feels it. We had a good crew of about 10 out on Saturday morning and thought we would complete the entire task. 5 plus hours and a 93 degrees later we had gotten 4 of  8 rows picked and were spent. So we came back on Sunday with 15 and finished up the task. After 2 days in the hot sun we decided to call it a day and move on to the cellar.

On both days we still had to process the grapes. Erich and I spent the afternoon running the grapes through the crusher destemmer  which  removes the grapes from the stems. After running them through they went to the press to squeeze the juice out.  All the while trying to keep the grapes as cool as possible. By late Sunday afternoon we had approximately 240 gallons of juice getting cooled down in our newest tank and awaiting some more work before fermentation begins.

That's one varietal down and 7 to go.  Hopefully it will cool down a bit!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Technology Review

My technology trial came to an end last Friday. I had a great time trying out a Samsung Tablet that Verizon provided me for the trial. Never having used a tablet before it took a little while to figure out how to get around it, but by the end I was pretty good. Even mastering a split keyboard! The cool things about the tablet was the light weight and the ability to get on the web anywhere with Verizon's Network. I could do work watching my son's baseball games, in the car, on the couch, anywhere. Very nice.

I tried out quite a few apps, most dealing with the wine industry in some shape or form. Here are just a couple of them:

Winerypedia is a great app for those that do some traveling and like to visit wineries (and who doesn't). It found your location and gave you a list of wineries emanating out from your location with the mileage to them. You could click on the winery and get info like hours, directions, and reviews. 

I tried out a few wine paring apps like parit and hellovino. These were interesting as they allowed you to select a a meal - entree, dessert, etc, and after a few more questions about that meal, suggest a wine type for your meal - like a cab with your steak. A great app for those wine novices out there, at the store, trying to find wine for dinner and want to impress their date!

Finally I used some apps to categorize wines in your cellar. Apps like Corkbin, Winenotes, Mycellar. In general the apps allowed you to make a library of your wines or of the wines you liked. You could add a wine with information like price, region, style, etc. Then you could rate the wine. A handy way to remember which wines you liked and which ones maybe you didn't.  So then when you go back to the store or the winery you can get exactly what you like!

All in all a great couple of weeks testing some new (at least to me) technology.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Technology on Trial

I have had the opportunity to tryout a tablet through Verizon.  They want me to try some aps and use the tablet . I will say it takes some getting used to, but i think I am getting the hang of it. I have tried a few wine aps like my cellar. This app let's you categorize your wine . It is okay, but it does have some issues. for me it was a bit hard to get around. It could be a combination of just learning the tablet and an awkward app.  More to  follow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Our newest wine, Uplifting, is now in the bottle. Last night we assembled a crew of five and we worked feverishly getting the 285 gallons bottled. Our crew knocked it out in a couple of hours. Thanks Jerry, Sam & Marti for the great work! Apollo tried to help out, at least with the pizza, but was soon asked to leave! Uplifting is made from Traminette grapes, so it is a white wine. It has a great aroma and taste which we will tell you more about soon. We had given it just a touch of sugar to soften it on the palate a bit.  I think it will be a hit for both dry wine fans and those that say they don't like a wine too dry. Now the bottles need some r&r from the rigors of bottling and then they will get labeled and capsuled. It should be available in the Cellar 426 Tasting room in by mid May!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rocky's Red is in the Bottle

Last week we got a crew together and bottled our 2012 Rocky's Red. We bottled 380 gallons which  turns into 1,908 bottles or 159 cases. Here is how our "bottling line" worked:  Erich uncased the empty bottles and sparged them one by one with Nitrogen. Dwayne loaded them on the bottler and filled them. Jerry took them from Dwayne gave a shot of CO2 for protection and Amy put them in the corker and added the cork.  I was the end of the line and put the now filled/corked bottles into cases, moving the cases to pallets, and making sure our open tanks had a good dry ice cover to protect them from oxidation.  Our team rocked!   This semi sweet red is almost.

It was quite an evening as we really got a rhythm down and finished up in a little over 3 hours. Which included a short pizza break halfway through.  Not bad considering both our bottle filler and corker claim to do just around 55 to 60 cases per hour. Our crew really rocked!

Now Erich will be busy labeling the bottles,  capsules will be added and on March 23rd the tasting room will be filled once again with Rocky's Red. A semi sweet, soft red wine that is a wonderful remembrance of our late great winery friend.

Thanks to our friends Jerry and Dwayne for lending us a hand. It was actually a lot of fun!  We'll be bottling our next wine very soon..

Here is our initial attempt at bottling:

Then realizing we still had 1,900 bottles we decided to use higher tech equipment  (actually the above was the last bit of wine that came from the bottling unit).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rocky's Red 2012

We're putting on the finishing touches on our 2012 Rocky's Red. We've completed our second round of filtering and now are prepping for bottling. The final steps include adjusting the so2 level to insure proper amounts post bottling, a sugar addition, and getting the temp up to a comfortable bottling temp of 60 to 64 degrees.

Our new labels for the Rocky's Red are complete (see below) and we got a bit of good news a couple of weeks ago as Rocky earned third place Midwest Wine Press's ( Midwest Winery Dog of the Year competition!  A fitting tribute to a great dog that is dearly missed.

We should be bottling in the next 2 weeks if we can arrange the time and a crew. That would put Rocky's Red upstairs and ready for tasting by mid March.

On a side note Rocky's understudy Apollo greeted his first customers today and proceeded to sneak into the winery behind them. We'll have to work on his greeting skills a bit!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Filtering the Traminette

We ran thru our first filtering of the 2012 Traminette. This process removes matter that is suspended in the wine like yeast cells, tartrates, proteins, and pectins and helps clear it up.  This is the first round of filtering and you can see from the very bottom picture how clear it really does make the wine (that is taken looking down into the tank).You can see our filter which contains 37 filter pads made from cellulose fibers which trap the particles. We'll do another round of filtering just before bottling which will be a sterile filtering done with a finer celled filter pad that will trap all remaining yeast and particles.

We plan on bottling the Traminette in late January or early February.  It is turning out to be a beautiful semi dry white, which will be a nice addition and compliment to our current wines. If all goes well  it should be in the Tasting Room by early Spring 2013.