It’s been a hectic wrap up to the 2011 Harvest. Things are finally tapering off so I thought I’d give you a brief recap of what went on at Scherrer Winery the past several weeks:
A quick abbreviated rundown of red grape fermentation: pick grapes, usually destem them into a fermentation bin or tank, you can cold soak them for extraction for a few days or maybe inoculate them a day or so afterwards (to avoid the botrytis mold from growing, this was a good year to inoculate quicker). The fermentation is a curved process that starts slow, builds to an active peak and then tapers off. As the fermentation starts it gives off CO2, causing the solids to rise to create that “cap.” It also creates heat because the yeast are in a feeding frenzy ‘eating’ the grape sugars. You add yeast nutrients about a third of the way into the process to give the yeast Nitrogen and other vitamins.
The punch downs help dissipate the heat and wet the cap. Otherwise, the cap also becomes a microbial playground. Usually, you punchdown two or three times a day during the peak, monitoring cap temperatures as well. Too much heat will kill the yeast. There’s more to all of this but…anyways…back to our story.
After fermentation and maybe a few days to more than a week of post-fermentation extraction and polymerization, you dig out the grapes (pomace), sending the free-run juice to a clean tank/bin and putting the pomace into a press:
After pressing and blending the good press fractions with the free-run juice, you let it settle for a day or two and then drain it off of any more solids (this is called racking) to another clean tank. Then you can send it to barrels to await the beginning of Malolactic Fermentation:
A few other happenings in the waning days of 2011 Scherrer Harvest:
Always a sad sight for us interns, but a more relaxed time for everybody, including Fred, who worked some monster hours during the Halloween season.
Only a few more episodes of “Season of Growth.” Stay tuned. I will post a few more fun things that happened towards the end of this year’s harvest.