Well, our inaugural harvest is finally over! All of the 2013 wines have completed their primary fermentation (meaning the sugars in the juice have been converted to alcohol) and we have pressed the remaining grape skins and seeds to get the last good bits of flavor and complexity.
Grape presses come in many different forms. Usually, it’s a large machine with an inflatable bladder inside that gently applies pressure to “wring out” additional juice/wine from the skins. The wine that is recovered in this way is generally more tannic and complex in flavor than the free run juice. We put the free run wine into one barrel, and the pressed wine into a separate barrel. Later on we will determine how best to blend the two into the finished wine.
How much pressure is applied in the press depends on a number of factors—the grape varietal, wine making style, and tannin structure being the most important ones. The wine is collected in a large pan below the press and is pumped into barrels for a long winter’s nap!
So what happens now? One final step goes on in the barrel: a secondary fermentation in which bacteria will convert the malic acid in the wine to lactic acid. Because malic acid has a harsh, sharp taste, this process will result in a smoother, more pleasant wine. We expect this process to take several months and should be done by early spring.