Wednesday, September 29, 2010

6 harvests completed with 1 to go, Olives before Montepulciano?

29 Settembre
I am sitting here in front of my computer enjoying my last handful of Garrett's caramel corn from Chicago which was kindly gifted by the Wilcoxons and Tanners during their visit last week.  What a drug it is!
We finished harvesting variety no. 6, the Petit Verdot yesterday and have enough to fill another 1000 liter tank once we take the skins and seeds away.  Here is an example of how we decide when to harvest:
This is the graph I made showing the maturation of the Syrah grapes.  As you can see pH is very stable, while the sugar content (in green) increases while the total acid (in red) decreases.  As Syrah can use a bit higher acid content, we harested with a final Babo sugar content of 19.5 and total acid near 6.  Our Merlot was 20 and 5.6 approximately.

We harvest into small containers to prevent damage to the grape clusters which might lead to premature breakage, fermentation and oxidation and then the containers are dumped into a de-stemmer.
The grapes are then sent off to the stainless steel tanks with a bit of yeast to start the fermentation and then after the fermentation has begun, we start the pump overs which is a process of sucking out the grape juice or wine from below and sending it up to the top of the tank where it filters through the skins which are floating on top of the juice, thus extracting more tannins, color and other important cancer fighting ingredients.  Once a day, we allow the developing red wines to breathe a deep breath by pouring the wine into a huge container outside the tank and then pumping it back to the top.  This gives the wine a bigger exposure to oxygen and some strange and unhelpful odors and vapors escape into the ether.
For the white wines, the process changes in that very little, if any "skin time" is allowed (for my Pecorino-just 30 hours) and many times the grapes travel directly to the press from the de-stemmer and then to the tanks.  There are no pump overs as the white wines are much more susceptible to oxidation and also much slower to ferment as we take away nutrients (grape skins) from the yeast and the fermentation progresses at a low temperature.  Where the reds might take 3-6 days to completely ferment, the whites might take weeks.
We have done this now for 6 varieties and I am becoming more skilled with all the new pumps and equipment.
Now that I have that sugar/butter rush from Chicago, I am off to do it again.  With the cool end of summer and early Fall we have had, the Montepulciano grape maturity may lag such that we will harvest our olives prior.  It has been a strange year.


guillermo said...

Good job Dwight. We will visit some day. G. Couchonnal

Dwight said...

Come on over! We would love to see you here.