February 11th, 2011

Pressing the Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noir was finished working fast, it was all fermented by Wednesday evening and so I collected the girls from school and we raced back home to put the Pinot Noir into the press.

The pH is now at 3.5 and I have added a malolactic culture. We have a paltry 100 lts but it is GOOOOOD!

So here it goes out of the open fermentation tank and through the press.

Scooping out the very last of the must from the open fermentation tank.

Scooping out the very last of the must from the open fermentation tank.

And the juice is pouring through the press.

And the juice is pouring through the press.

Pinot Noir going through the press.

Pinot Noir going through the press.

And then into the stainless steel variable tank.

And then into the stainless steel variable tank.

Chardonnay is next!

February 11th, 2011

Pinot Noir Harvest 2011

Saturday morning we were up early and in the vineyard, Alexia, Seiyia and I with my good friend Sonia. We were feeling quite cold – it was 12 degrees centigrade. We find its best to pick the grapes before the sun gets too high in the sky as the berries being dark in colour warm up so fast.

Clear skies early morning looking out over the Rift Valley from the vineyard.Clear skies early morning looking out over the Rift Valley from the vineyard.

We had pruned the vines early so that we would pick now instead of early March as I have to travel to the USA towards the end of the month.

Seiyia and Alexia taking the grapes of the top row of Pinot Noir.

Less than last year we had a total of 5 large basins of Pinot Noir , giving us only  three large basins of must after it had been through the destemmer/crusher. This was then put into the open fermentation tanks and to this I added the yeast.

Alexia looking at the harvest outside the winery.

Richard Leakey putting the Pinot Noir through the crusher destemmer.

Richard Leakey putting the Pinot Noir through the crusher destemmer.

Seiyia and Alexia look out for spiders that need rescuing.

Seiyia and Alexia look out for spiders that need rescuing.

This year I have decided to take of 30 litres of juice and make a Pinot Blanc with it so it is being fermented separately now with a white wine yeast so that it can work at lower temperatures.

Final numbers for the Pinot Noir at harvest;

We had a pH of 3.2 Brix of 23.5 at crushing and the acidity as TA came out at 1.065 with a potential alchohol of 13.5% .

October 6th, 2010

Bottling of the Chardonnay

We have a total of 77 bottles of a very delicious Chardonnay this year!  A long way to go before we will be giving it out as christmas gifts. This vintage will have to be drunk with friends at Il Masin.

As usual we did our bottle cleaning over a smoky fire early Saturday morning.

Shining clean, recycled wine bottles are cooled on the bottle rack.

In the winery we then siphoned the wine into the cooled bottles before corking and capping them.

And a fine chilled Il Masin Chardonnay for lunch with good friends Bob and Heather Campbell to celebrate Bobs 80th birthday.

October 6th, 2010

Pruning of the vineyard

This year I we pruned the vineyard a month earlier than usual, the reasoning behind this is that leaving this until the end of September means that we are forced to take the crop in earlier than usual if the March/April long rains come early. This year the grapes needed another week or two on the vines but we had wet mornings and reduced sunshine hours from the cloud cover so our fruit began to rot and we were forced to pick and then to chaptalize.

We took the Chardonnay back to one or two fruiting canes each with 10 to 15 buds with one or 2 renewals per vine. The Pinot Noir we I find tends to grow only from the terminal buds on the canes so they need to be cut back much shorter to get fruit. We put these between 5 and 8 buds maximum, 2 canes per plant and several renewals.

The buds were painted with the DORMEX as usual and two weeks later, we have a synchronised spring growth.

We were even fortunate enough to get a downpour last week of 40 mm which has given the vines just what they needed at this critical time. We are however laying out some drip pipe incase the short rains do not materialise. We shall wait and see.

The little clusters of flowers can just begin to be seen sprouting now. With some good rain in November we should have a successful crop if we can keep the mildews under control that is! Keep reading →

October 6th, 2010

Tragic loss to Kenya’s small wine growing community

At the beginning of August while I was in the north of Kenya, I heard the tragic news that John D’Olier of the Naivasha Vineyards was tragically shot dead in the Masai Mara, celebrating his 60th birthday party with his family and good friends. It is with great sadness that I write this.

Deepest condolences to Ellie and to his children Colm and Anne-Marie who are all working hard to pick up all of Jonnys many projects.

John was such an enthusiast and has helped so many of the wine growing community in so many ways. I have spoken of him often in my previous posts.

It is with hope that they manage to find the culprits and can prevent this from ever happening again.

There are a couple of links to other reports and news of this tragedy here.





June 11th, 2010

Racking of the 2010 Pinot and Chardonnay

Last weekend we racked the wine. The malolactic fermentation is complete. The pH of the Pinot is now at 3.5. Its not quite fallen bright but we racked it into a clean variable stainless steel tank. I decided to add the egg white to the tank again this year, and gave it 60 ppm of potassium metabisulphite too, which is the first sulphite it has had. I am quite pleased with this one. The free run Pinot is quite light in colour, with classic berry flavours.

The Chardonnay is going to be good although its still slightly cloudy. Racked this and added bentonite and metabisulpite to this as well. It rather hard juggling glass carboys but we don’t quite have enough Chardonnay yet to use the variable stainless steel tanks that we can use for the Pinot Noir.

The vines are resing, they look very dry and depressed – its their winter time now. We are looking forward to pruning and waking them up again mid September.

March 22nd, 2010

A Verse from Virgil

Louisa Hargrave sent me this wonderful verse to me after seeing pictures of my daughters, stirring and stamping the Pinot Noir.

Great father Bacchus to my song repair;

For clustering grapes are thy peculiar care:

For thee large bunches lade the bending vine;

And the last blessings of the year are thine.

To thee his joys the jolly autumn owes,

When the fermenting juice the vat o’re flows.

Come strip with me, my God, come drench all o’re

Thy limbs in must of wine, and drink at ev’ry pore.

March 22nd, 2010

New thing…twitter page Ilmasin@twitter

Just in case there are twitter users out there who are reading this then you might be interested to know that I have set up a twitter page for Zabibu and it is here; at www.twitter.com/ilmasin

Its somewhat new ground for me but will give it a go and see where it takes us.

Here is a screen shot to share;

March 2nd, 2010

What else on the grapes?

You can appreciate from the image below why with the rain we started to get some rot on the bunches. As those shrivelled grapes get wet they begin to attract a range of different insects to the grapes as they begin to rot.

Thought I would try to photograph a few of the insects on the grapes before they came off the vines as there are usually some fabulous spiders and other insects to be found. The pictures aren’t great as I had the wrong lens on, low light and without a tripod.
I will try to get these identified in time but for now I will just put the images up.

The image below is of a Nairobi Eye fly which leaves a nasty blistery burn on your skin if you rub it.

March 1st, 2010

Crushing of the Pinot

We harvested the Pinot Noir on Saturday morning. We had 8 basins of grapes to crush- About 300 litres of must in the end. The fermentation is underway now. It takes about 5 – 7 days.
I would have liked it to have had another week on the vines but we had no option with the rain and cold wet mornings but to take it in. The wet weather was not doing the crop any good at all.

All said and done we had a Brix of 20, TA 1.25 and a pH of 3.3 so we should be ok with this. Will add the ML culture at the end of the primary fermentation this coming weekend.

Here are some images from Saturday last.

and then of course the girls helped with stamping on the grapes, which was great fun, until it got just a little too deep!