27 October 2010

Harvest 2010

I've been thinking a lot about what to write about this year's harvest.  It has been difficult on a very personal level because this is my job.  Taking care of the grapes and making them into the best wine possible are what I do all year and this year I have much less fruit to work with compared to a normal year.  If you figure that I get, at best, 25 chances to make wine and I started young this is one of those chances mostly gone.
We were able to bring in some fruit, mostly off BeckenRidge Vineyard and a tiny bit off of our own, Dunn Forest, and I still have my fingers crossed that the Gewurztraminer came through the 4" of rain we have had over the last 4 days as well as the pea sized hail that came down on Sunday though I have not been out to check.  I must say that one of the great advantages of having the Dunn Forest Vineyard grapes picked this year by our wonderful volunteers is that what was brought to me on the crush pad was in beautiful condition and the long hang time has developed the flavors and provided some nice complexity to the juice.

The pinot noir and chardonnay sadly weren't ripe enough to make wine and after some joking then serious discussion we did decide to try and make a sparkling wine.  So I took those beautifully picked grapes, perfect for methode champenois and whole cluster pressed them.  This means the whole cluster, stems and all are put in the press and the juice is squeezed out immediately.  The idea is to minimize contact between the juice and the stems, seeds and skins.  I don't know yet if we will try to do the second fermentation in the bottle as we have none of the equipment and would have to be borrowing or else sending our wine elsewhere to be finished.  But I'm working on it and reading about it and picking other winemakers' brains so hopefully there will be something fun to drink at our 25th anniversary next year.

We also brought in a small amount of Foch, enough for about 3 barrels so I'll be playing a little bit there too trying to make a different style wine from our normal Foch.  I'll be interested in feedback as it starts to develop in the barrel so if you are visiting next spring and summer, ask.  The majority of this years fruit came from BeckenRidge: Pinot noir, Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer.  Lower yields than normal but still ripe and some good flavors.  The Gewurztraminer in particular is smelling nice and I am looking forward to watching it develop during fermentation.
The pinot noir has been destemmed and placed in white fermentation bins that hold about 1.25 tons of fruit.  They were allowed to soak for two days and then I added yeast to start the fermentation.  They are now going along quite happily and should be dry in another 3 to 5 days I would guess.  At that point they will be drained, the skins shoveled into the press and then the skins are pressed off.  All of that wine will be put in barrel, inoculated for ML and the maturation process will begin.  The Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer were pressed off immediately and sent to tank.  After settling for a few days I racked the juice to clean tanks and Mary filtered the lees, adding that clean juice back to the respective tanks.  I then inoculated the juice and now they are fermenting along with the pinot/chard sparkling base.  This is one of my favorite periods in the wine making year.  I love smelling and tasting fermenting white wine.  They can be beautiful, fizzy and fun and as my dad would say 'all potential'.

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