Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harvest 2010 - New Advertures in Winemaking

Better late than never - or so goes the saying.  Harvest is well underway in Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles, albeit a few weeks behind schedule.  As the days and weeks go by, vintner's are wondering what else Mother Nature will throw at them before all the fruit arrives.  It's been a harrowing vintage for most wineries as they wait for the fruit to ripen, but it will be disappointing to some whose crops may not make it in time.  The October rains merely delayed pick dates, but as the weeks go by and the season transitions from warm days to cool afternoons and cold nights, we can only hope that Mother Nature will deliver her goods before Thanksgiving with limited rain.

After my first year working at Vines on the Marycrest during harvest, I decided to go a step further this year by harvesting some fruit of my own to produce Rosé (Tempranillo/Syrah) and Syrah wines using fruit from the highly-acclaimed Alta Colina Vineyard in Paso Robles.  I am very excited about this new endeavor into winemaking and deeply appreciative of the support I am receiving from my friends at Vines on the Marycrest (Victor and Jenni Abascal), Alta Colina (Bob Tillman) and Tercero Wines (Larry Schaffer).

There are so many decisions that go into winemaking based on important measurements such as Brix, pH and acidity.  Within the first few hours and days, we acidulated, inoculated with yeast (D254), added nutrients - all in an effort to bring it into balance.  What you add or take away in the first few days depends on what kind of wine you what to end up with.  While that sounds fairly straightforward, the winemaking process demands patience, spontaneity, and tolerance - tolerance for whatever direction the wine takes itself during the fermentation process.  Unfortunately, I have very little patience or tolerance, so this is a fun learning experience.

We'll punch down the cap at least 3 times a day until primary fermentation is complete.  I'll draw the free run from the fermentation bin and press the skins of all the remaining juice before pumping it all into barrel.  After that's complete, the wine will go through secondary fermentation or malolactic fermentation in the barrel (Tonnellerie Saint Martin, to be exact) and I will let it age on the lees for the duration of time, with the possibility of racking a year out.

Take a moment to check out my recently crushed Syrah grapes from the Alta Colina Vineyard.  Let the magic of fermentation begin!


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