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The Best Things in Life are Free, Like Rose

Posted by Kerith , December 17, 2013

I make rosé because I like to drink it. Brian says I’ve already made enough rosé to drink a bottle a day, 365 days/year. Clearly, he does not share my pinkalicious devotion to all things rosy and bright. I know a high-powered sommelier in Texas who swears that rosé of pinot noir is the perfect Thanksgiving libation, pairing well with the diversity of flavors studding that menu of excess. The corollary hints a pinot rosé would be perfect for Christmas dinner too, although I can’t speak from experience. Who wouldn’t want to sip something mellow to take the edge off wrapping presents, hanging lights, and in-laws? We witnessed a couple drinking a rosé of pinot with dinner last weekend, and it was 32 degrees outside. Pink transcends weather.

Despite mounting evidence that rose is integral to the Bruliam armamentarium, my CFO remains recalcitrant. Witness the transcript from an actual text conversion this past harvest.

Winemaker: “Made impromptu Anderson Valley rose just now. Just 50 gallons in a bbl.

Bruliam CFO: “If you ever want Bruliam to be self-sustaining and actually not cost us money, you need to stop doing things impromptu.”

Ouch. It’s a challenge when your CFO is your husband with real world financial chops and business cred. I was an English major. You do the math.

I have tried to appeal to Brian’s fiscal acumen. My rosé is “free.” What I mean is that the rosé is a by-product of my pinot noir program. In instances where I want to concentrate the juice to skin ratio, I “bleed off” excess juice in a French technique known as saigneé. One could either dump this pink grape juice down the drain or add yeast to make “free” rosé. I opt for the later.

To date, my greatest stake in the 2013 rosé is around $60 bucks ($44.20 for yeast and $16 for a packet of bacteria). Actually, make that two packets of bacteria since I added that aforementioned impromptu barrel. Sure, there are other, minor ancillary costs to consider. For instance, secondary fermentation didn’t take the first time, so I re-inoculated one lot. The ML bacteria purveyor had already shut down its local “harvest season” storefront, so I had more MLB sent overnight, from Napa, on ice. I knew I had to re-inoculate because I’d already sent off lab work, three times, and the number hadn’t budged. Ka-ching (X3). For now, let’s just ignore the cost of my stainless steel barrel ($1033.70). That was a 2012 capital investment- a thing of the past.

You may recall the tale of last year’s rosé “instability.” (Just for the record, I’ve had a bottle of that 2012 rosé in my fridge for two months, and it remains crystal clear. But, whatever.) This season I plan to make the 2013 iteration as stable as an elephant perched on a medieval fortress. Some innovative wine products make it possible to cold stabilize even the smallest of volumes. The wine in question just needs to satisfy certain criteria, like less than 16% alcohol. Easy. Check! Heat stability (another lab test; ka-ching). Preliminary cold stability (Ka-ka-ka-ching. Gazoontite!). Plus the cost of product. (No comment). And bottling. That’s glass plus labels, corks, and the bottling truck. Don’t forget the cost of transporting those 40-something cases from the winery to the storage facility, plus forthcoming storage fees. Like I said, the rosé is virtually free.

Last year I used bentonite to clarify my rosé. Bentonite binds up any proteins that might sully its glittering, pink translucence. Bentonite is cheap and easy to use. Afterwards, my rosé looked pretty. This year I am bringing out the big guns. I’m using cross flow filtration instead. A big truck will haul out to the winery and process my 100 gallon lot. Afterwards, it will be as polished and brilliant as a pink sapphire – and worth almost as much. I do not think this is overkill.

This holiday season, as you rejoice and savor the company of loved ones, please reflect on what matters most. Do not succumb to tawdry commercialization or brazen merchandizing. Cherish love, joy, and spiritual matters of the heart. These sentiments transcend profit margins. After all, the best things in life are free, like rosé.

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