October 13, 2009

Slow ferments

Two of my three fermenters are actively fermenting. Well, one more than the other. We had a heating plate in one fermenter overnight, and then it was switched over this afternoon to the other fermenter. The first one seems to be going pretty good, the second one should take off over night as the juice temperature warms up. Again, think of bread dough. A warm place helps the dough rise.

The third fermenter, from the Zenith vineyard, is still cold soaking. The fruit came in cold and didn't need any cooling. Now it's slowly warming up and with a little push in a day or two it should start fermenting.

Meanwhile, I saw lab numbers on the juice samples we sent to ETS in McMinnville. Considering the hot summer, the numbers look pretty good. Definitely lower sugars and higher acids (lower pHs) than 2006, also a hot growing season, but definitely not the ideal chemistry of last year. That simply suggests we'll have nicely ripe wines with soft structures but not the excessive alcohol or softness of other hot years. Take that as a very broad generalization. Who knows how things will turn out.

One nice thing is that both of these lots have high tartaric to malic acid ratios, meaning there won't be a big loss of acidity in the malolactic fermentation process. Also, there are nice levels of nitrogen in the juice samples that suggest the yeast should have plenty of nutrition to ferment to dryness. All in all, things look good.

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