Adventures in wine making… the birth of Pinotsaurus Rex

Last September my friends and I decided it was time to delve deeper into our passion for wine and make our own so twelve of us bought into a half barrel production at the Brooklyn Winery.

We decided to a California Pinot Noir* and as luck would have it, the other half of the barrel was part of the Brooklyn Winery’s house wine. So needless to say the winemaker, Conor McCormack, had an extra vested interest.

We were actively engaged throughout the entire process, participating in both the crush and the press. Due to unfortunate timing we ended up having to crush a Napa Cab for someone else’s barrels, we did however get to press our wine and then sit back, waiting for grape juice to become wine. Along the way we’d get updates from the winery team with – lactic acid rates and sugar levels and tasting notes. Our patience was rewarded in March with a barrel tasting and it came as no surprise that our wine was excellent even at its young age.

By February we had to come up with an original name and design our label. Being presented with a blank slate can be daunting but twelve smart, witty and for the most part creative individuals prevailed.

We brainstormed names over wine and then voted on our favorite.

The top 3 contenders were:

  1. Pinotnoirous Rex
  2. Big Appleation
  3. Poisson Boisson

Funnily enough the name that was suggested on the very first night at the winery stuck, though ultimately “Pinotnoirus Rex” evolved into “Pinotsaurus Rex”.

Two of our group whipped up a few label designs and we all got to pick our favorite.

A drama free creative process. Such a refreshing change from my day to day.

It took 90 days to get our label approved by the Alcohol & Tobacco Trade Bureau as though judging by some bottles at the local wine store it may not seem so, there are very specific rules about what must be on the label and the font sizes, all specified in millimeters. Oh, and that pesky Government Health Warning Statement, there’s no budging on that.

Finally, on July 18 we got to bottle our wine.

Bottling is a pretty manual process involving unpacking empty bottles, giving them a Co2 spritz to clear the bottle, filling the bottle with 750ml of wine, wiping down the bottle, putting the cork it, applying the foil seal and sticking a label it and putting it in a box. Thankfully the label is applied by a machine so the risk of crooked labels is minimized which was wise since we were allowed to pull a couple of bottles from the line to drink.

The hardest part still lies ahead: waiting.

It takes up to 6 months for wine to recover from bottle shock since going from the breathability of a barrel to the constrains of a glass bottle is stressful.

So, January will be when I get to drink my wine. However, I will be opening one for Thanksgiving just to see how it’s faring. I also plan to age some of it to see how it evolves. (look for future posts on tasting notes)

*Our grapes came from a single vineyard. Windsor Oaks in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA.


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