Maceration & Fermentation
White Wines: The pressed juice for is treated with Bentonite and allowed to settle overnight before racking the next day. Once racked off of lees, the juice is inoculated with yeast and transferred to barrels for fermentation. Barrels are monitored and once the fermentation reaches its end, the resulting wine is stirred over to mix the yeast lees. After 6-8 weeks, the wine is racked from barrels to separate the wine from the yeast lees. The wine is returned to barrels and aged for 8-12 months in a mixture of used and new French Oak. Depending on the varietal, we may carry out Malolactic fermentation of the wine.
Red Wines: The red wine berries and juice in the tank are known as “Must” (juice, skins, and seeds). The Must is chilled to approximately 60°F. This is the “cold soak” step typically lasting 3-4 days, as we gently pump over the juice in the tank 2-3 times daily to allow for gentle extraction of flavors and color. We believe this early extraction allows for wines with better color, and softer, richer tannins. Fermentation after the cold soak lasts from 10 to 35 days depending upon grape maturity and grape variety. We allow for natural fermentation of sugars to alcohol by the natural yeast already present in the Must. Upon a 1/3 reduction in fermentable sugars, we add a commercial strain of yeast to the Must. Alcohol levels above 8%-10% are usually toxic to wild yeasts and this could lead to an arrested fermentation. This multistep process allows for the development of more complex flavors. The peak fermentation temperature is usually around 85°F.
Each day, the Must is tested and analyzed for sugar and temperature. The fermenting Must is gently pumped-over twice a day to continue the extraction process with the skins. As the fermenting Must drops in sugar, the length of time of a pump-over is shortened. Once dry the lot may be given extended maceration on the skins. When this occurs we discontinue the pump-overs.
The next step is draining of the free run and pressing the pumice. The free run wine is drained from the fermenter to barrels. The pumice is transferred to a press and the press fraction is kept separate. Because the press wines have value on the bulk market we are gentle in the handling of the grape pumice as it is pressed. We usually limit pressing to 1.0 bars of pressure to ensure high quality.
Once, the primary fermentation is finished, we may allow the wine to macerate for a few more days. The extent of this post fermentation maceration depends on the tannic profile and the style of the wine. Towards the end of alcoholic fermentation, the Must is inoculated with malolactic bacteria. This secondary fermentation converts Malic acid to the softer Lactic acid. This fermentation usually finishes in barrels after 6-8 weeks. Once finished, the wines are racked with a vigorous splash, and then receive a small dose of sulfur dioxide.
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Processing of the Grapes at the Winery