We got THE phone call at 8:30 in the morning. “Get down to A.T. Siravo the grapes are in and they are going fast!!” That was not an understatement; we called and asked them to hold some Zinfandel grapes. We were told that two tractor-trailer loads were sold out but they had another suggestion for us. We were at the grape wholesaler by 9am the place was a zoo, Eddie the person who seemed to be running the operation took a shine to us, brought us for a mini tour, and let us taste all the grapes to allow us to make an informed decision as to what we wanted. We decided to up our original plan of just three cases of white wine grape to five cases. The Marvasi grape was so sweet and full of flavor – the sweetness will subside as the alcohol in the wine increases!! We also took 20 cases of Nebello grapes and 3 cases of Allegante grapes for a red wine blend.
We loaded up the pickup with the grape and additional 60-gallon primary fermenting tub. We thought we had everything secured until we rounded a corner and one of the cases of grape ends up in the middle of the street. Phil pulled over and salvaged what he could and put it back on the truck.
Now for the prep work to get ready for the next day. We swept the garage floor and put a tarp over it. Unloaded the grape from the truck washed and installed the spigots on the primary formation tubs. Bleached the wine press and left it out in the sun to dry. Tomorrow we will sterilize all the equipment prior to use.
The carboys, fermenting tubs, wine press and anything that touches the grape was sterilized with C-Brite. It comes in a powered form that you mix with water; it has a slight bleach smell but will not alter the color of your clothes.
The crew started to arrive around 9am. We started with the white grape first. We destemmed the white grape and ran it through the crusher. The crushed grape is then placed in the wine press and squeezed several times to ensure all the juice has been expressed. We take the stems and skins and put them in our compost pile. The juice is run through a fine mesh metal strainer and through a funnel with a very fine mesh strainer. Therefore, the juice has been strained twice yet will still have sediment in it. The strained juice ends up in a glass carboy with an airlock. This will sit for a week or two so the sediment goes to the bottom and can the clear wine can be siphoned off the top.
The red wine is a bit of a different process. We crushed the grapes and put them directly in to large fermenting tubs. We will stir the crushed grape twice per day for 7 – 10 days. During this process the fermentation begins and the wine “boils”, you will hear a bubbling sound as the natural wild yeast on the grapes eats the sugar to produce alcohol and releases the carbon dioxide.
Both wines at this point are all natural and have no additives and no yeast. We may need to add some chemicals to the white wine to stop fermentation and to clarify but that remains to be seen in the coming weeks.
Now we sit back relax and enjoy a glass of last years vintage until next week when the work begins again!!
We have been caring for the wine every day by turning the grape in the tub twice per day. As the grape is fermenting in the tub, it rises to the top and we push it down, this process keeps out bacteria and mold that could grow on the top but also helps in the fermentation process. On day 7, it was time to press the skins, stems and seeds. We once again sterilized everything that will come in contact with the grapes with the C-Brite solution. Once everything is sterilized we begin to drain the first tub, we use a fine mesh strainer to catch seed, small pieces of skins and other small particulates. The juice goes into a plastic bucket and is set aside. Once all the juice is drained, we remove all the skins, seeds and stems from the tub and place them into a plastic bin to be pressed. We now will clean the 90-gallon fermentation tub that the juice has been in for the past 7 days, once rinsed out the tub is moved to our basement and filled with the juice we just drained from the tub. Now the pressing begins. We press in small batches so it does not gum up the press and we get the most yield from the grape. The juice that comes from this pressing is then added to the tub in the basement. We repeat the process with the smaller tub, and add the contents to the 90-gallon tub in the basement. This will blend the two batches and ensure a consistent product.
The wine has now been sitting in the basement for 2 days this allows some of the fine particulates to settle to the bottom and ensures all the flavors from the 2 tubs have married. We once again sterilize everything that will come in contact with the wine. We attach a hose to the spigot and begin to fill one of the two demis we have. A demi holds 16 gallons of wine. Once the 2 demis are filled we move onto the carboys; we have several different sizes of carboys ranging from 3 – 7 gallons. We then add oak chips to add that wonderful oak flavor you get from a fine wine that has been aged in oak barrels. The wine will now sit until sometime in December when we will bottle.
CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO SEE THE STEP BY STEP PROCESS IN PHOTOS!!
|2009 Wine Making|