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At the winery, the white grapes are in and crushed. Today we pulled in the first of the red grapes: Primitivo! “What is Primitivo?” I hear you ask? It is a red grape of the Zinfandel family which hails from the southern end of Italy. The “heel” to be exact! Here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, we are becoming known for really good Zinfandel, although there are some other really great varietals grown here too! So let’s go take a look at the process for the reds, shall we?

Numerous bins come in filled with grapes. Each bin can hold up to 1,000 pounds, depending on the size of the grape. The bins are then lifted to a device that will hold the bin which will be moved gradually to release the grapes. Here is a shot of the grapes being dumped where they will head onto the sorting tray…

From the bin on its way to the sorting table

From the bin on its way to the sorting table

Now just so you know, it is really hard to get a good shot of the grapes dropping and this was the best one I had after taking about 20!

On the sorting table, just like with the white grapes, leaf debris and bad clusters are removed as the grapes travel down the table…

Hand sorting the Primitivo

Hand sorting the Primitivo

Here is another shot of them moving down the table. Check out the size and quality of these grapes! They are magnificent and they are sweet!  Keep in mind when looking at this photo, the grapes are “jumping” on the table as they travel downhill which is why there is a bit of blur.

Primitivo on the sorting table

Primitivo on the sorting table

From the sorting table, the grapes travel up a conveyor on their way to the de-stemmer machine.  Again, another moving photo where my stop action could not stop the action!

Primitivo on its way to the de-stemmer

Primitivo on its way to the de-stemmer

This next photo shows the grapes going “over the top” where they fall into the de-stemmer.

Clusters falling in to the de-stemmer

Clusters falling in to the de-stemmer

Here is a shot of the grapes and juice blowing out of the de-stemmer and back into a bin, where primary fermentation will start.

Primitivo coming out of the destemmer

Primitivo coming out of the destemmer

And here is a bin that clearly shows you not only the juices from the grapes, but the grapes with skins that starts primary fermentation. There is no need to worry about the small pieces of stem that you will see in this bin. They do not add flavor to the wine.

Primitivo ready to start fermentation

Primitivo ready to start fermentation

And the stem residue? Here you go! All of this debris will go back out to the fields to compost amongst the vines.

The residual stems

The residual stems

Well that is the process for the red wine grapes! I hope that you enjoyed this post on the reds!

Thank you for visiting with me today, and I hope that you have a stupendous Thursday! See you tomorrow where I will share another kind of harvest!

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This year, with the strange weather we have had, it looks like the winery will be bringing in the grapes early! I took a stroll through the vineyards the other day and thought that I would share some of the shots with you today!

The grapes on the Cabernet Sauvignon canes are developing very nicely!

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

The color on these grapes will shortly start to change from green to a lovely deep purple.

Closer up to the Cabernet

Closer up to the Cabernet

Here is one view of the vineyard. In the background you will see Chardonnay vines and to the upper left is Sauvignon Blanc!

A view of the vineyard

A view of the vineyard

Looking around a bit, the vines on the rolling hills in this shot are Zinfandel vines.

Zinfandel along the rolling hills

Zinfandel along the rolling hills

Sitting just outside of the vineyard an old piece of equipment sits idle.

An old piece of equipment

An old piece of equipment

Stay tuned for a post on the 2013 crush!

Thank you for stopping by today, and may you have a splendid Tuesday!

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So now we go on to the third winery we visited: Miraflores in Placerville. Come with me, Ethel, Barb and Wayne as we visit this winery!

Again, as with our adventure to the other wineries, the road was winding and scenic.

We see alpacas on the way

When we came upon the alpaca farm, which had to have had about 50 of these beautiful creatures, Barb asked if we should stop. I told the group that if we did, I would have to buy something, which led to stories from both Barb and Ethel about what they bought because they stopped! From what I heard, it would be well worth the stop…and we continued on.

We found Miraflores, and drove up the narrow road to the winery. The road is a little rough to the winery, so if you make the trip, take your time. As we approached the winery we found ourselves below the tasting room.

Coming upon Miraflores Winery

Miraflores is one of the small producers in El Dorado County. But the place is grand as are their wines! We headed into the tasting room, which is a new building for them. The previous building held their tanks and barrels. Once in the tasting room we realized that they were really busy!

We sidled up to the tasting room bar. Having been to this winery before, I was on the hunt for the Pinot Grigio, which I had bought on my last visit. I was looking forward to this wine, and was told that unfortunately the wine was no longer available, which taught me a lesson, and one that I will share with you. If you find a wine that you really love, buy it, and buy more than one bottle, otherwise if you go looking for it on your next visit, you might not be able to get it! Even thought I was disappointed, I do look forward to their next release of this wine!

They have an impressive flight of wines. A flight, is the listing of wines that you will be able to try in their tasting room. I stepped back from the bar with a taste of their 2009 Barbera. I marveled at the grandeur of their tasting room.

Inside the Miraflores Tasting Room

Standing back from the crowd, I let the flavors of the Barbera roll around my mouth. This is typically an acidic wine that goes well with any food that has acid, like a dish that includes tomato sauce. Their Barbera was lively and crisp and would definitely hold up to a tomato based dish.

The next wine that I tried was the 2007 Zinfandel, which was rated by Wine Enthusiast Magazine with a score of 92! And this was a most impressive wine! I generally try wines and make my own determination as to whether I like the wine or not. I rarely rely on ratings from reviewers and magazines as what I may like another person may not, so “judge for yourself” is my motto!

I strolled outside to their back patio. The wind was whipping up and I wished that I had worn a jacket. I looked at the beautiful stonework, and what captured my eye was the centerpiece of the area:

Back patio at Miraflores

As I rolled the wine over my tongue, the flavors exploded, and I was picturing what I could pair this wine with. Roast beef and vegetables came to mind! But I could also see this wine with a lovely roast duck too! I headed back in to the tasting room. Barb and Wayne were trying other wines, and Ethel found a wonderful goat cheese with a pesto sauce that was available for all to try.

My last pick was the Principe dessert wine. Here is where I found a piece of heaven on earth! This lovely dessert wine is a port style wine. I closed my eyes and was picturing in my mind how well that this wine would pair with a rich chocolate mousse cake! The grapes used for this wine are a Touriga Nacional and a Tinto Cao. This wine was loaded with smooth plum flavors, and rich chocolate notes! This wine had to come home with me!

Before leaving I ventured to take some photos of their vineyards that not only surround the winery, but flow up the hills rising above them.

Miraflores' vineyards

Behind the pines are more vineyards

Next, we head on over to the tasting room of a very new winery in the Placerville area: Chateau Davell!

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Come and join me, Wayne, Barb and Ethel on our trip to the Sierra Foothills wineries. We went to four in one day but as each winery is so different I thought that I would devote a blog for each one. We start out on our way to Story Winery located in Amador County and just north of the town of Plymouth.

The rolling hillsides are just amazing and it makes the drive an adventure as around every corner there is something to see.

On the road to the wineries

Little valleys are hidden in the hills and when you come upon them they are picturesque and really give you the flavor of the Foothills.

Vineyards as far as the eyes can see

Story is known for producing some amazing Zinfandel wines, and they actually have vines that are more than a century old.

Old Vines at Story

We headed into their production area for some barrel tasting. We tried three different Zinfandel wines two from 2011, and one from 2010. We started off with the Picnic Hill Zinfandel, which had lovely fruit, a note of pepper and oak. The next Zinfandel that we tried was the Quartz Zinfandel. This wine also had notes of pepper but hidden in the background rose petals appear and come forward. The finish on this wine lingered and was truly amazing! Then we tried the last of the three, Alitia Zinfandel. This one was my favorite. The complex flavors of this young wine was packed with fruit, most notable to me was a hint of Apricot.

The tank room at Story Winery

We bought some futures and then headed towards the tasting room.

A sign points the way to the tasting room

On our way we found ourselves under a tree that was humming with the activity of honey bees.

Honey bees were humming in the trees

In the tasting room I fell in love with a sparkling wine that Story produces. It is a cuvee, which, for those who are unfamiliar with this term, means a blend. It is a lovely blush colored wine with a hint of raspberry. Stepping outside and looking off of the deck affords this view of some of the vineyards at Story.

Story vineyards

These vines have yet to be pruned back, but will be shortly.

We leave Story with a parting photo of my traveling companions.

Ethel, Barb and Wayne in the Vineyards

We will be heading out to the next winery, this one in El Dorado County. Come back later to visit Skinner Winery with us!

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