Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mirabelle's Birthday

Two years ago, this little girl was born at Victoria General.  Mirabelle Corazon Trinidad started her journey at 1030 in the morning with eyes wide open, and a full head of jet black hair.  She has turned into a belligerent little tyke - with a brand new push bike to boot.

Happy Trails Mira!
- from your adoring mother, father, and brothers.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mushroom Hunting

When the rains begin in late summer on Vancouver Island, folks from all over converge into the hills in search of chanterelles.  The chanterelle is a distinctive mushroom with a bell shape which come in colors of pale to golden yellow, and grow in coniferous forests -  often poking out from the moss.  They tend to  grow in groups so when you spot one, take a closer look around as you'll probably find more within arms length.  Care should be taken when harvesting these mushrooms by slicing them close the ground rather than picking.  For those wanting to learn more about mushrooms, David Aurora's book, All the Rain Promises and More, is a great field guide.

This was the second year that we've taken our kids mushroom hunting and they have really started to develop an eye for finding them - the boys anyway.  They also take special delight  now that they've been entrusted to carry their own swiss army knives, and actually make the cuts.  Mirabelle will have to wait until next year for her mushroom knife.

Here is a good recipe for chanterelle soup that will warm your bones on those autumn days.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grape Pressing

The next stage after crushing and fermentation is pressing.  This is the process where several friends get together to separate the grape must into two parts:  the juice and the pomace (the skins, seeds, and in our case the stems).  The juice of course is the real reason we go through all this trouble because in a few months of aging in air tight carboys and demi-johns, we will have something that actually passes for wine.

Since crushing, the grape must has been left to ferment for approx. 2 weeks in our fermentation buckets.  It's an aerobic process, meaning that it is not done in a air tight vacuum.  Open air as they say.  Just take some care to minimize the fruit flies that are attracted to laying eggs in it.  Bug larvae, bad.  Kudos to Jason who devised a slick little screen on the lids of our containers to stymie those little pests.  He drilled a bunch of holes through the plastic lids and taped a cotton patch over the holes!  Very nice.

The pressing begins, of course, with a drink.  Are you seeing pattern here?  Back from his trip, Dave graced us with this presence and proved once again to be vital and belligerent contributor.   Special thanks to Joyce for also coming along and helping us out!  You may take a cut out of Dave's share.

Work begins with assembling the press.  The stand and staves are cleaned.  The pins are fastened to the staves and viola.  We are ready to start pouring in the grape must.

The grape must is gathered up in big scoops from the fermentation bucket and pitched into the press.  This can be sticky work for the person assigned the job, but someone has to do it.  The juice filters down the stand and drains into a small bucket that collects what we call the free run juice.  The juice is then transferred to a demi-john or carboy.  We use a small colander to keep big bits of seed or skin from entering the vessels.  Though this can be accomplished by one person, having friends around makes it easy and fun.

When the press gets full of grape must, we place an oak buffer onto the skins, seads and stems.   We also stack wood above the buffer to extend our reach into the press.  Above the wood we will screw on the press head, a 40 lb. cast steel rachet type thing that can drive a considerable amount of force onto the wood and press the living juice out of the grape must.  

After we get the head as tight as our hands will let us, we install the lever and really start to apply downward pressure to the grape must.  The press head makes a wonderful clicking sound as you ratchet the lever -  the pins on the left and right rising and falling with each stroke.  Tick, tick, tick, tick.  

This part of the pressing should not be rushed as there is a considerable amount of juice in the skins.  It can try your patience as you ratchet up the press to get what seems to be a miniscule amount of juice.  But my dear wine maker, patience.  Let it sit for while, have a drink or something to eat.  Ratchet it again.  Have another drink.  Ratchet it again.  You will be surprised how much juice you will eventually extract from the must.  

After all that, place a air-locks on your car-boys and demi-johns.  Store them in a place that doesn't have wild temperature fluctuations.  Basements are a time honored place, but in our case this year a garage in East Sooke will do just fine.  

Let the age for a month or two until you get to the next step:  racking.

See you then . . . 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grape Crushing

The middle of Sept is a very special time for a small group of my friends and me.  More than the harvests from our gardens, the salmon returns, chanterelles in the hills or the whiff of a new hunting season, the middle of Sept means the delivery of our grapes from the sunny state of California.   Our order this year was a 1000 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 1000 lbs Sangiovese.   The brains behind our operation is Jason, master drinker with not enough answers but all the right questions.  Upon his advise we chose the Cab due to the cool wet weather California experienced this summer and that the Cab grape clusters tend to be loosely packed, and maybe less susceptible to mould.  He turned out to be spot on in his prediction and we found not a lick of mould.

The brawn of our little group would be Armando, whose family actually brought the crusher and press to Canada from Rome many years ago.

Ben was gracious enough to stand as proxy for his father Dave who couldn't be present because he was drinking Riesling in the hills of Rheingau.   Danke Schoen, baby.

Then there's your truly.  They love my truck.   And my immaculate white t-shirts.

You might be surprised how easy it is to make wine.  Well from the mutts above, perhaps you wouldn't be surprised at all.   First you must order your grapes from someone.  We get ours from Ambrosio Wholesale here in Victoria, BC.  Jodi and John a first rate merchants and great cocktail company to boot.  They truck in a couple semi trailers of grapes every year for local wine makers and they know how to get your grapes to you quickly and efficiently.   They can be reached at 250.889.1189

Now you must crush the grapes.  You could go old school and use your feet, but we use an actual grape crusher which just breaks the skins.  But first make sure you clean your equipment.  We typically use bleach to sanitize the surfaces that will come into contact with grape must.  

What's wine making without drinking wine, eating and telling stories?

Eventually, we will actually start pressing grapes. 

We crush into 100 liter fermentation buckets.  These are simply food grade plastic buckets that you can buy at Industrial Paint and Plastics.  We typically fill the buckets about half full as they will develop a cap of grape skins and actually rise during fermentation.  To help the fermentation get started on the right path (read: not vinegar) we pitch yeast into each bucket.  

Then we open up some more bottles and talk about weather and the price of horses.

Then it's clean up time.  Things get hosed down and put away. Grape crates get burned in the pit. 

 Enter Dionysus and his minions:

The must will ferment in the vessels for about a week or two.  Care and diligence must be made to punch down the cap daily.  We use a garden hoe.  By punching down the cap you mix the grapes skins that have formed at the top back down to juice at the bottom.  I'm not sure what it does, but apparently it is a good thing.  Why argue.   Drink in moderation.  Did Oscar Wilde say something about that?

Next step, press.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tofino and Shooting with Film

Last month, my family spent five lovely days relaxing in Tofino, BC.  It was a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of our lives, not to mention the efforts our families made in helping Jasmine and me have the wedding we had always wanted!  

Here are scanned pictures taken with a Mamiya RB67 with expired color film, and Ilford Delta.  I'm sure you've heard it before, but I'll say it again, that there is a quality to film that elude the sensors of digital cameras.  Better or worse, it is there.  And for me, it imparts nostalgia of the time my dad showed me how to use the light meter of his Pentax Spotmatic (seeing that needle bounce between + and - was magic for me).   Some of my earliest pictures featured my brother, Alain, pictured above, hurtling through the air on his BMX.  He was about 6 or 7 years old and utterly fearless.  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Warm and Soft Light

Woke up this morning with the sun being diffused through dense fog/cloud and giving a very warm orange red tone.  After a breakfast of blueberry lemon muffins, I captured a few portraits of the Westry and Mirabelle in the back yard.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Mood

This was shot on location at the Ruth King Hall in The Valley, Anguilla.  Strobe was bounced off the ceiling with a strong back side light coming from an open door on camera left.   

About This Blog

Adelio Trinidad is a Victoria B.C. based photographer. He typically works on his blog after his children have gone to bed.

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