October 12, 2009

Quick update - day 7

The cool and dry weather is about to end, meaning most people have picked their red grapes here in the northern Willamette Valley of Oregon. Some whites are still out there, and some red I'm sure. It's only October 12, but after the hot summer and gorgeous weather the last few weeks, it's hard to imagine pinot noir getting much better after a predicted week of rain coming up. I'm glad all the grapes from my project are in.

In the winery, my two fermenters from last Tuesday's pick have started to ferment naturally. I'm not so much against added yeast. Great wine comes from that. I'm just fascinated by spontaneous fermentation. Who knows if it's yeast from the vineyard, from the winery, or what. It's just interesting to see grapes ferment without added yeast.

That's not to say things aren't helped along, mostly with heat. I compare it to putting your bread dough in a warm place to rise. You heat up your fermenters and they begin to ferment. Pretty simple. I'll come clean and admit we added a little acidified water to each fermenter to bring down the sugar level almost a full percentage point. Nothing drastic, and in some ways of thinking it's so little, why bother. But it helps in a year of dehydration to return some of that lost liquid.

Now it's two punch downs a day for the active bins until they're past their peak fermentation, then down to one a day until it's time to press. The bin of grapes that came in two days ago is still soaking so it got a pump over today to get oxygen into the juice to feed the yeast and to mix up things up to get a good sample for the lab to see how much sugar, acid, etc. is in the juice.

Let it rain. In a couple of weeks everything should be safely in barrel. That will feel good.

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