Daily Archive for December 10th, 2011


This year we will be using all available space in the winery filling it with barrels stacked four high. Many lots are still going through malolactic fermentation.

When they are done with malolactic fermentation the wine is allowed to settle and remain ‘sur lie’ (on its sediment) until bottling. Barrels have to be topped every 10 t0 12 days and the wine monitored.

Topping barrels requires a great deal of agility, scrambling up and down the narrow rows might challenge even Spiderman.
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Punching Down

Not all our wines have been pressed. Several tanks are undergoing 7 to 8 weeks of Extended Maceration – when fermented wine is kept on its skins for an extended period of time until, as described by Bruce, ‘the bitterness moves from the front of the palate to the back’. These wines still have to be punched down every day, as well as, covered with an inert gas to prevent damage from oxygen contact. This is Bruce’s assistant Dan punching down.
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The Vineyard in Winter

The leaves are gone. The vineyard is definitely in its winter mode, the temperatures are dropping to the mid-thirty’s at night, there is frost on the ground. This is when the vineyard rejuvenates itself. The image is of one of our Pinot Noir blocks.
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Malolactic Fermentation

This week in the cellar we’ve been checking barrels and testing samples from various lots of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc for evidence of malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation, typically performed in the barrel, which converts a grape’s naturally occurring malic acid into lactic acid.

Malic acid gives wine a crisp, bright, tart flavor similar to that of Granny Smith apples whereas lactic acid gives wine a soft, toasty, buttery quality. In fact, diacetyl, a byproduct of malolactic fermentation, is often used in the production of margarine to make it taste more like real butter.

Chardonnay, Marsanne and Roussanne are good examples of white wines that typically undergo malolactic fermentation. Winemakers often avoid malolactic fermentation in wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio in order to keep them crisp and refreshing.

Carlos Mascherin, Santa Barbara Winery