California Wine Grape Basics
A proper balance of alcohol, acid and PH level is essential to make a fine wine that will not spoil. A lot of California grapes tend to be sweet enough to make a sufficient amount of alcohol but they tend to have low acid levels. If you do not use various commercial acid additives, blend into the wine a high acid variety. Always use some sort of bisulfate when you are making the wine and each time you are racking or bottling. Without bisulfate the wine will probably oxidize (turn brownish with a sherry taste) or turn acidic (vinegary). Another good practice is to use commercial yeast to ferment your wine. Commercial yeast that is made for the type of wine you desire will help the grapes produce that wine. In the process of using commercial yeast you will also destroy any bad yeast spores that are present.
In California a varietal wine is a wine that must be made with at least 75% of the grape that the wine is named. All varieties we provide are noble enough to make a wine that has the variety’s unique characteristics and can sustain or improve those characteristics with age.
Some Great Blends
Below we've listed some great blends we've made or sampled over the years.
BURGUNDY TYPES - dry, dark colored, full-bodied red wine that is usually fermented on the skins until all the sugar is fermented. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah are considered Burgundy type grapes.
- 66% Zinfandel - 16% Carignane - 16% Petit Sirah
- 66% Petit Sirah – 33% Pinot Noir
- 66% Sirah – 16% Old Vine Zinfandel – 16% Alicante
- 66% Old Vine Zinfandel – 33% Alicante
- 75% Cabernet Sauvignon – 25% Merlot
- 66% Alicante – 16% Barbera – 16% Old Vine Zinfandel
- 52% Old Vine Zinfandel – 21% Carignane – 9% Petit Sirah – 18% Grenache
- 66% Ruby Cabernet – 33% Alicante
- 55% Cabernet – 40% Old Vine Zinfandel – 5% Barbera
- 60% Cabernet Sauvignon – 40% Sangiovese "Tuscany Blend"
- 40% Cabernet Sauvignon – 30% Sangiovese – 30% Merlot "Super Tuscany Blend"
CLARET TYPES - or Bordeaux is a red wine, not too dark in color with a medium body, good fruit flavor and bouquet. Depending on the color desired most fermentation occurs on the skins. They can have a slight hint of sweetness. Chianti and Zinfandel are considered claret type wines.
- 75% Merlot – 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 66% Sangiovese – 16% Alicante – 16% Zinfandel
- 40% Sangiovese – 40% Primitivo (Zinfandel) – 20% Carignane
- 50% Sangiovese – 50% Zinfandel
- 33% Grenache – 33% Sangiovese – 33% Alicante
- 16% Grenache – 34% Carignane – 34% Zinfandel – 16% Alicante
- 50% Alicante – 50% Grenache
ROSÉ TYPES - or Blush is made from red grapes that are lightly pressed right after crushing or a wine made with a blend of mostly white grapes and a few red grapes for coloring. It can be either a sweet or dry wine depending when the fermentation is stopped or with the addition of sugar. Most red grapes, including blends, can make a Rosé. Just leave the crush on the skins for one to two days and press out lightly. A 100% Grenache left just one day on the skins after crushing makes an excellent Rosé.
WHITE WINES - are usually made from white grapes. The grapes are crushed and immediately pressed. No fermentation occurs on the skins. It can be either a sweet or dry wine depending upon length of fermentation and the amount of residual sugar. All white grapes can be blended. Just try to mix the varieties with a high acid with a variety that has low acid.