After a rainy day on Wednesday in which we spent it in the winery stomping grapes, Thursday and Friday have been beautiful and progressively warmer. Now to keep us busy, there are two areas that we cover – the vineyards and the winery.
In the winery, the grapes are slowly beginning the fermentation process in which the sugars will be converted to alcohol, with CO2 as a byproduct. In order to monitor the fermentation process, the sugar levels need to be checked each day. This is done by taking the temperature of the juice in the fermenters as well as a sample of the juice to measure the sugar levels. Once the measurement has been done, the sample juice is put back in the fermenter and CO2 is added (once the fermentation process is well underway, enough CO2 will be produced by the grapes that additional CO2 won’t need to be added.
Once a day the grapes need to be punched down (over time, punch downs will happen twice a day and then three times per day). In the fermenter, the skins rise to top and form a cap. The juice sits below so punching down helps mix it all together so that the skins and seeds can impart color and flavor in the juice.
After checking the fermenting grapes in the winery, it’s time to head out back into the vineyard to check on the ripening grapes.
Due to the rain, moisture gets caught in the grapes, causing botrytis, a mold. When the grapes are fully ripe and this mold forms, it is called “noble rot” and makes a delicious sweet wine (like Sauternes). But when the grapes are under-ripe, the mold is called “grey rot” and it is not good for the grapes. It can spread and affect other grapes or end up in the wine, so our job is to go vine by vine and cut out any mold we find.
So, this is what keeps everyone busy until the grapes in the vineyard are ready to pick to go into the winery to begin the winemaking process. These Pinot Noir grapes look like they are almost ready!