General harvest and winemaking update
Harvest. We are harvesting like mad this week! Which means, we bring in one of each of our 1 hectare (2.5 acre) blocks each day. The weather is cooperating and is back to cool nights and warm days; perfect ripening weather. At the end of this week Vilafonte will be finished with harvest. Last Friday we harvested the first of our 7 blocks of Cabernet, and this Friday will be the last. Remember, our Cabernet blocks are imaginatively? named Blocks A,B,C,D, N,O,P. The latter 3 have different row directions from the former, and, of course, make different wines. Among them, P is a different clone. These three tend toward more red fruit, or red/black fruit…raspberry, red and black cherries, boysenberry. A and B tend toward lush black fruit. C and D are our building blocks; very concentrated; lots of firm tannins. A-D are contiguous, but, different. Anyone who says there is no such thing as terroir (as I have heard a few people say) has never made wine from vineyard blocks that have differing vine environments.
Last weekend's heat and low humidity knocked some of our clusters on our small vines to a shriveled state and they must be sorted out. Julie and Mary Ann are "cluster sorting" in the vineyard, about 9 hours a day, leaning over half ton bins of fruit. Not glamorous work. Tonight those grapes come in (Block B) and they will be berry sorted by a crew of 10 of us, starting at 7 p.m. until approximately midnight. Long days. This will happen again tomorrow night (Block N). Cold soak
Cabernet D and C are sitting, very cold (12C) in tanks for 3-4 days; while their skins slowly release color. The first day after crush, D was light pink. Today, it is purple black; really really dark. And delicious. Rich, deep flavors, big tannins. I was excited when tasting D. It is just barely starting fermentation today.
We have had a pause between Merlot and Cabernet, so nothing is fermenting in tanks just now, but some of the lots were pressed off before they were dry, so we are carefully watching their progress in the barrel. It's a delicate time….we want to be sure that these wines complete fermentation so they are totally dry…no sweet reds for us!
Pressing and Barreling
All the Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are pressed and safely tucked into barrels. When we are ready to take the wine off its skins, we drain the free wine off (this becomes Series wine); then take a light press; then combine the heavypresses (which are not very heavy) in one tank, to go to barrels in due course.
Monitoring fermentation, and planning the work
Photo is Bernard checking Brix on Block D Cabernet. He checks all fermenting wines twice a day for Brix (sugar) and temperature. I taste all the new wines with him daily and review the results; together we ID what each wines needs are for the next day, and thus, the work plan.