Before we process, we bless.

Once all the pinot noir grapes had arrived at ADEA Wine Company, our processing facility, they joined the syrah grapes in the line waiting to be processed. But first we performed the traditional “blessing” the first grapes of the season.

This is a tradition that goes back to Old Testament times, when grapes typically were the first product of harvest and were highly valued. So valued, they were honored with a formal religious ceremony by the people of that time. Each winery celebrates its first crush in its own way; we celebrated by pouring a bottle of Henke Sparkling Chardonnay over the first grapes to enter the fermenter. We felt this was a very appropriate way to honor Dave’s first professional winemaking mentor, Joe Henke of Henke Winery in Cincinnati.

Dave uncorks the Henke Winery Sparkling Chardonnay for the traditional Blessing of the Grapes prior to processing.

Dave uncorks the Henke Winery Sparkling Chardonnay for the traditional Blessing of the Grapes prior to processing.

What? Did you think we were just going to pour the Henke Sparkling Chardonnay straight from the bottle onto the grapes? Heck no! We're drinking first!

What? Did you think we were only going to pour the Henke Sparkling Chardonnay straight from the bottle onto the grapes? Heck no! We’re drinking first!

Dave, Fred Robinson of Robinson Family Vineyard (our source for Pommard clone pinot noir), and Dean Fisher of ADEA Wine Company toast the processing of Fred's grapes--the first down the line.

Dave, Fred Robinson of Robinson Family Vineyard (our source for Pommard clone pinot noir), and Dean Fisher of ADEA Wine Company toast the processing of Fred’s grapes–the first down the line.

Dave sprinkles the Henke Winery Sparkling Chardonnay on the pinot clusters (but we drank the rest!).

Dave sprinkles the Henke Winery Sparkling Chardonnay on the pinot clusters (but we drank the bottle dry, of course!).

Here’s the “Stomping” part.

After the blessing, it was time to turn on the heavy equipment! The large slotted plastic bins holding the freshly-harvested grapes are first loaded by a forklift into a hopper, which lifts them up. From the hopper, the clusters are raked gently onto a sorting table. The sorting table is actually long conveyor upon which the grapes ride. As they pass by, several pairs of keen eyes inspect each cluster for ripeness and make sure each is free of rot or disease.

The clusters that make the cut (and, fortunately for us, 99% of ours did) are dropped into a destemmer machine. This equipment gently separates the berries from their stems, shoots the stems out the side and drops the berries into a second phase of the machine. Here, the berries are gently crushed, then dropped into the fermenting container.

Fred Robinson of Robinson Family Vineyard "formally" passes over his harvested grapes to Dave.

Fred Robinson of Robinson Family Vineyard “formally” passes over his harvested grapes to Dave.

Then Mike Slater of Tonnelier Vineyard does the same.

Then Mike Slater of Tonnelier Vineyard does the same.

Dean Fisher of ADEA Wine Company loads the a bin of grapes into the hopper at the head of the sorting line.

Dean Fisher of ADEA Wine Company loads the a bin of grapes into the hopper at the head of the sorting line.

Dean switches on the hopper to lift and tilt the bin at the proper angle to ensure the right amount of clusters fall down to the sorting line.

Dean switches on the hopper to lift and tilt the bin at the proper angle to ensure the right amount of clusters fall down to the sorting line.

The sorting crew gets to work, checking out each cluster as they pass by on the conveyor. Dean uses a rake to drop more clusters onto the line.

The sorting crew gets to work, checking out each cluster as they pass by on the conveyor. Dean uses a rake to drop more clusters onto the line.

At the end of the line, the clusters that made the "damage-free/flaw-free" cut drop into the destemmer machine.

At the end of the line, the clusters that made the “damage-free/flaw-free” cut drop into the destemmer machine.

Looking down from the sorting line one story below, on the left the removed stems drop into a holding container (they're composted later), and the gently crushed berries drop into the fermenter bin (on the right).

Looking down from the sorting line one story below, on the left the removed stems drop into a holding container (they’re composted later), and the gently crushed berries drop into the fermenter bin (on the right).

The boss at ADEA, Ann Fisher, samples a cluster to ensure ripeness.

The boss at ADEA, Ann Fisher, samples a cluster to ensure ripeness.

Mike and Julie Slater of Tonnelier helped out on the line.

Mike and Julie Slater of Tonnelier helped out on the line.

Since Dean designs, engineers and builds winery processing equipment—including the machines at use in his own facility, ADEA—he can make his own customizations. That includes some very handy wineglass and bottle holders on the side of the sorting table.

Since Dean designs, engineers and builds winery processing equipment—including the machines in use at his own facility, ADEA—he can customize. That includes some very handy wineglass and bottle holders on the side of the sorting table.

The official mark of quality at ADEA.

The official mark of quality at ADEA.

We wound up using three of our large plastic fermenters, and this enormous neutral oak barrel, called a puncheon.

We wound up using three of our large plastic fermenters, and this enormous neutral oak barrel, called a puncheon.

Dave checks out some of the processed grapes in the fermenter.

Dave checks out some of the processed grapes in the fermenter.

Prior to adding the yeast, Dave decided to "cold soak" the crushed grapes. To do this, layers of grapes were interspersed between layers of dry ice, creating a "foggy" effect in the fermenters.

Prior to adding the yeast, Dave decided to “cold soak” the crushed grapes. To do this, layers of grapes were interspersed between layers of dry ice, creating a “foggy” effect in the fermenters.

Finally, we can start making wine—but that’s the next post!

 

 

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