Saturday, August 7, 2010

Road Trip for Frozen Grapes

Last month I got a notice that Brehm Vineyards was having an inventory reduction sale. I've been intrigued by the frozen juice & must products that Brehm sells because he sources grapes from some of the most premium vineyards on the West Coast, including his own White Salmon Vineyard in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington. However, because the grapes are premium and he's got some pretty high overhead costs (with the freezing and storage and all), he charges a pretty premium price. So when the sale notice came out, I took notice and got a little excited when I saw that he had frozen White Salmon chardonnay juice at his New Haven, CT distribution center on sale for $50/5.25 gal bucket (almost a 1/2 price reduction). Granted, it was from the 2006 vintage, but it's been in deep freeze ever since and should still be good.

So I bought 3 buckets.

Now, faithful readers will recognize that I can't do anything without making it as complicated as possible, so you have an idea where this is going. I started thinking...

If I have to drive to New Haven to pick up the chardonnay, I drive right past M&M Wine Grape in Hartford and they've got a wide selection of frozen juices/musts as well. If I were to stop and get a red wine, I could get it fermented before the 2010 grapes come in October. That would make the fall harvest time a little easier for me.

See, it's really all about making things easier... :)

After a little research, I decided to try the 2009 Lanza Vineyards Suisun Valley Petite Sirah. Folks on Winepress raved about it, and the price was reasonable, so I bought 6 buckets.

I took Monday, August 2 off of work, hopped in my truck, and headed south. Trip was just peachy until I hit the I-91/I-95 intersection and ran into a 2 mile backup at 12 noon. Arrgh. I'm flipping through my Garmin turn instructions and realize that I don't have to get onto I-95 like it's telling me to, so I swerved into the exit ramp and bypassed the whole mess. Get to the freezer facility just shortly after noon, only to find that the shipping & receiving office is closed from 12:00-12:30 for lunch. Would have been nice if they had mentioned that on the phone when I asked when I could stop in! Fortunately, an IKEA store was just next door, so I walked over and got myself a frozen yogurt cone. Pretty "cool" way to kill half an hour. 12:31 on the dot, I'm back at the freezer and the shipping clerk pauses his lunch to go grab my 3 buckets. He couldn't have done that 30 minutes ago before he started eating?

Back on the road heading north, I make a pitstop at M&M to grab the petite sirah. Had a nice conversation with Tom who convinced me to try a different yeast. And then it was homeward bound. Got home about 4:00 and moved the buckets into the basement to finish thawing. Here's some pictures of the bounty.


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