Friday, January 29, 2010

Pressing grapes and making wine

After we crushed and destemmed the grapes, we placed them into the macrobins. The yeast was pitched after it was properly hydrated and tempered with grape juice. We waited a day to start punching down the skins as they formed a cap on the top of the fermenting juice. Fermentation proceeded well perfuming the garage and the house with the yeasty smell of fermenting wine. As the fermentation proceeds, the color extraction from the skins turns the grape must into a deep opaque purple. The transformation of juice to wine seems to take place overnight. As the sugars are consumed by the yeast, the alcohol content and conversion of sugars eventually slows the fermentation. Next the wine has to be removed from the skins and the seeds. We taste the wine as it is pressed off the skins to avoid extracting too many bitter tannins. We use neutral and new barrels to maintain a balance of flavor that comes from the oak and the charred interior of the barrel that gives that wine some vanilla and caramel flavors. There is a sense of relief getting the wine into the barrels. The wine will settle and the next process of racking takes place after a few weeks to remove the wine from the lees that settle from the now still wine. The varietal character of the wine starts to show as the wine settles, and we wonder what this wine will be like after a few months in the barrel.