Daily Archive for September 11th, 2013

Machine Pickiing

2013-harvest-7This harvester which uses the same gentle crusher/stemmer we us in our production is technically advanced and made in France. We contracted for 2 nights picking to evaluate whether it was suitable for us. Unfortunately it broke down the first night. The machine, I might add, is a 1/2 million investment.

What we did find, although it required a lot fewer people, it did not pick faster than our hand-picking crews. Harvest machines are essential in large vineyards, there simply are not enough pickers, but for smaller wineries the benefit of passing in front of human eyes, on conveyor belts, before reaching the fermenter is a big plus.

Starting Fermentation

First a view of the overall winery. Then Carlos drawing out four picking boxes of juice from a fermenter that has been cooling for two nights. You can see the ice on the tank walls.
Carlos has mixed yeast with hot water. Barolo yeast, which winemaker Bruce McGuire prefers for Pinot Noir. Then he places the box under the tank and barely opens the spigot so that the yeast will gradually acclimatize itself to the cold juice.
Once this box is fermenting well he will dump it over the top on the grape solids in the tank and then the other 4 boxes he previously drew out. This will provide thorough contact with the yeast and fermentation will begin rapidly.


All boxes have to be weighed, in this case 2 boxes at one time. This is net weight of 2240 lbs. – just a little over one ton. Boxes of Pinot Noir weigh a little heavier than many other varieties – the grapes are very small and they pack closer together.
Click on image to enlarge:

Barrel Maintenance

Each year we add new barrels. We use some barrels up to ten years but after a few years, although they continue to do the job of ageing wine well, they no longer contribute the subtle wood flavors that add to the complexity of the wine.

Innerstave, a company that specializes in this, added just that- inner staves, oak wood staves from aged French Burgundy oak. These are charred, as the barrels themselves are and come from light to strong.

They work extremely quickly and I am lucky as I was there when they arrived. There is an image of the new staves inside the barrel and of old staves that have been removed. These are covered with wine tartrates which accumulate on the sides of the barrels and on the staves as well.2013-harvest-82013-harvest-112013-harvest-92013-harvest-10