Friday, December 08, 2006

Press Operator

We pressed our zin and merlot blend today. The zin is our Russian River grapes and the merlot blend is all Napa fruit - majority merlot with some cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Harold cranks on the zin in the first photo above and in the second pic Mark pours free run from the merlot blend into a new barrel. Pressing went well - so now we wait for aging to work its magic...

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Scent of a rockroom

The sweet smell of a winery is in the air in the new rockroom winemaking co-op digs as our recently arrived fruit ferments its way toward wine-dom. Briefly...
Our little barrel of chardonnay is perking away nicely and you can already smell the toasty vanilla-caramel influences of the French oak barrel. Remember this will be blended with some wine from the same vineyard that is fermenting in neutral vessels, so we will be able to moderate the barrel character. Other whites are doing well ranging from the pinot gris which has almost fermented out completely to the Napa sauvignon blanc that is taking its own sweet time. Keeping our whites in tubs of ice-cooled water keeps fermentation temperatures low. Maybe Santa will bring us a glycol chiller!
The picture above shows our merlot-cab-cab franc blend several days ago as it starts fermentation. Unlike the whites, we want fermentation temperatures to climb on this stuff so the bins are wrapped with insulation to make sure we get to 85 degrees plus. Fermentation is exothermic (ah look it up) so no external source of heat is required to easily hit this. The zinfandel got a couple extra days of cold soak to really get the fruit soaked out and be sure any raisined grapes got softened up enough to release their flavors and sugar. Look for pressing alerts on reds in a week or so.