Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day 2009

I have uploaded the rest of the photos from the Crush, Pressing, and Racking.

Cheers! M


Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the Barrel!!

Ok, I forgot to keep posting during the fermentation - so a quick catch-up.
Brix was 24.9 on day 1 - after crush. It took about 9 days to get just below 0 brix. I was able to punch down the cap on my grapes a couple of times in that period. I spent a good deal of time at the winery between crush and press, learning the ropes and lending a hand where I could. It was really fun watching the other folks crush their grapes, however my group was definitely more picky about which grapes to keep. Without a second sorting table we had to be right the first time.

Ok, so now we've reached press time. I was curious about how the free run juice would taste, but after putting my nose on the cap the aromas were great. I picked up roasted coffee and chocolate - very pleasing to me!! We pumped the free run juice into a brand new bladder press, and then dumped the skins in. I ran a soft press so as to avoid harsh skin tannins. I really want my wine to be approachable on the front end and not need several years to "calm" down. So we pumped the juice into a holding tank allowing it to settle for about 12 hours. The next step was racking into the barrel.

I chose 100% new french oak, a DAMY barrel. The medium toast in the barrel has an amazing smell. It reminds me of my grandparents house when I was very young - aromas of old wood, varnish, pipe tobacco, and bonfires in the fall. I will start barrel tasting at about 4 months to determine when I need to rack into a neutral barrel. We started secondary fermentation or Malolactic in the barrel. This will change the harsh malic acid (think tart green apples) into the softer lactic acid (think silk or licking cotton) for better mouth-feel. Not sure how long the change will take.

I will add the pressing and racking pictures soon.

Cheers, M

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crush 2009 photos

Hey ya'll check out these pics from the Crush! Video coming soon.



CRUSH 2009!

So it was 24 hours ago that some of my closet friends and family arrived at Vintners Own in Houston to sort grapes. I was worried about the grapes because of the rain that decided to show up 1 week prior to harvest, but all in all it wasn't too bad (the vineyard should have done a better job dropping fruit). We had 8 people on the sorting table, the more eyes and hands the better, and everyone did a superb job of culling any berries or clusters that showed rot. I spent the 1st half under the de-stemmer pulling debris that made it through - need to keep a clean tank! I switched out the other half and sorted on the line, props to those that were on the line the whole time, that'll kill your back. It took about 2 hours to process what turned out to be around 2 tons of grapes to get a really beautiful ton for fermenting. Look thru the pics and you can see just how much work is going into this barrel!

For the detail minded - these grapes basically underwent a cold-soak on their trip from Napa to Houston via reefer truck at roughly 40^F. They arrived Tuesday around 2pm and we sorted at 8pm. The fermentation is roughly 90% whole berry and 10% crushed in an open top tank. Brix was down at harvest because of the rain so alcohol will be lower in the end - which is fine with me - it shouldn't be the main feature. I will post updates on the ferment status and what we are doing along the way.

I'm very proud of my crew and got some great props from the owner and his son (wine-maker). We were tedious and choosy in our grape selection, if I didn't know better I would have said the grapes were double sorted - the final product was clean and beautiful. Now the science begins... Stay tuned.

Cheers, M
pics and videos posted soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Almost time for Crush

Well It's been awhile since I last posted - had to go back to my day job and earn a living. Well as my last post said 14 days it has obviously been longer than that. The current news is that it will be the end of October. The grapes are hanging a bit longer this year and a heavy rain this week will slow things down. It shouldn't hurt the thicker skinned Cab, but I'm a bit nervous about fungus and berry rot. If you click on the link, NapaVintners ,you can read the overview of this years harvest notes - 2009 looks to be a stellar year. Well that's all for now - I will start posting daily when crush starts.

Salud, M

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

14 days and counting...

Well it looks like about 14 days to go before the grapes arrive in Houston. I'm gettin' excited and nervous - this is a damn big and expensive undertaking! The paperwork alone is more than I thought. I've got my event shirt designs into the printer and will have them for the Crush party - white on black - looks good. I'm going to make company shirts a little further down the road - long-sleeve, pink for the ladies, and Kristin wants a hoodie!

Cheers, M

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Grapes - they are a commin'

So I have been told the grapes are 2-3 weeks from harvest! Brix (sugar measure) is running between 22.5 and 24 right now. Once harvested they will be overnighted by truck at 40^F to Vintners Own in Houston. Then crush time. I'm also working on having some shirts made for the crush party - I'll have some left over - let me know if you want one.

Salud, M

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Out and About - wine notes

Well I thought I would start blogging about the wines I that drink with friends, on the road, and at home. So here we go... Last night at Reef, one the best seafood joints in town, we started the night off with Willakenzie Pinot Gris 2007. This was a very nice semi-dry wine with a great bite (Zing) at the finish. This wine was smooth in the mouth and juicy, great fruit flavors. We paired this with a tempura shrimp roll and a steamed sushi dish that I didn't eat - I hear it was wonderful. Our second bottle was a 2004 Penfolds "St.Henri" Shiraz. This bottle could have been decanted but with a little time opened up nicely. It was full bodied and spicy - great cotton-mouth feel with the first sip then was immediately flooded with luscious blackberry, plum, and pepper. Fish was the order of the night, we had grilled Grouper, skin on Snapper, grilled Amberjack, and Hot Pot Seafood soup (highly recommended). I usually have a Pinot with fish, but the group felt we needed something a little more racy! The Penfolds hit the spot and paired very well, not overpowering the fish.

Just FYI I'm not a big-time foodie or wine critic - I just like to share experiences. I would love to hear suggestions on wines, restaurants, and your comments on the wines I have blogged about.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine...

And those who don't.

As Ben Franklin said:

In wine there is wisdom,

In beer there is freedom,

In water there is bacteria.

In a number of carefully controlled trials,
Scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli,
(E. Coli) - bacteria found in feces.

In other words, we are consuming
1 kilo of poop.

However, we do NOT run that risk when
Drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whisky or other liquor), because alcohol has to go through a purification
Process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

Water = Poop, Wine = Health .

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid,
Than to drink water and be full of shit.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information:
I'm doing it as a public service.

The Grapes

Thought I would fill ya'll in on where the grapes are coming from. My first barrel will be Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of Napa Valley. The grapes are coming from the Kelham vineyards 3 miles south of St. Helena. They will be harvested in the coming weeks, probably around the 10th of October. They ship overnight at 40 degrees, arriving at the winery the next day. Then the fun begins!!

Salud, M

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What's in a name?

So why 13th Floor Vineyards? To be completely honest the name doesn't have deep personal meaning, but the pieces fit together well and they make folks wonder and ask why?

For anyone familiar with the movie "23" you'll get this... 13 is reoccurring in my life. Born on the 13th, moved to Houston when I was 13, my full name has 26 letters (13x2), M is the 13th letter in the alphabet, getting married on the 13th, launched my business on the 13th (not planned btw), and my old license plate numbers totaled 13... that's about it. 13th floor, as most know, is rooted in superstition as being a non-existent floor or a floor with dubious or evil happenings. Hollywood does well portraying the evil piece. I chose it for the "eye-catching" part of my marketing plan - there is no evil in the bottle!

And lastly, one day in the not so distant future I will have actual vineyards from which I harvest my own grapes. Until then, my name represents all that is my brand, my juice, and my future endeavors.

Cheers, M

ps. 5/13/1980 when multiplied is equally divided by 13 - go figure :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Under construction

ok - so this blog will be under constant contruction for the next few months as I figure this stuff out. leave me comments on what you want to see, change/add, link etc. I can use all the feedback.

cheers, matt

Why wine why now?

So I thought I would give ya'll some background on why I'm doing this wine thing. Well I started drinking wine about 10 years ago with my dad. He was working for a guy that had a very large cellar and spent a good amount of time in Napa every year. Needless to say I was introduced to some of the most prized, overpriced, and delicious wines available. At about 23 I started my own adventures into the wine world. Over the next few years I kinda went nuts, just ask my friends. I was attending tastings every saturday, buying case after case, digging deep into mostly Cali wines. I came to be kind of a wine snob - I was rasied on the "best-highest priced" juice and thus sought only the best, a costly path I assure you. Well now I have mellowed a bit and I enjoy many varietals from many regions - price is less important and doesn't always reflect great juice.

So why now?
Many of us never pursue our true passions in life, we always have reasons or excuses why we can't follow this dream or that dream. Money, family, time are all valid reasons that run interference in our lives. My wine adventures have helped me develop the underlying passion that is wine-making. My family is behind me, time is what I make it, and money - well I'll find it somewhere. My pursuits are not simply self-centered, but aim to create a lasting brand, a legacy that I can pass down, a company that gives back, and that absolutely delivers the best juice that I can create for my consumers.

Last note - I've always heard that a recession is the best time to launch a business - well I've jumped with both feet - let's see how quickly I can grow wings!

Salud, matt

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First POST!

Well here I am finally doing the blogger thing. I'm launching this blog to introduce the friends I have and the friends I have yet to meet to my wine brand, 13th Floor Vineyards. I launched the brand, with my finance's blessing, on July 13, 2009. I'm making the wine in Houston at a custom crush facility in the Heights area. It is a full service winery and I am involved in every process from grape crush to barrel aging to bottling. I'll leave it that for now and fill in more info on future posts.

Please continue to tune in for company updates and wine progress!
Cheers - Matt