Today is our last day of harvesting grapes …hooray! For the next 2 weeks, our harvest blog will focus on the fermentation side of harvest before we wrap up around about the last day of March. It is always somewhat of a relief and celebration to see those vines empty of their brood of grapes. A relief, because we are never sure what weather is just around the corner; and a celebration; another year of tending the vineyard is complete; wines developing; more lessons learned about our site. This is not to say that work is done; to the contrary, we now have a cellar full of Cabernet waiting to ferment. There are 2 important components to fermentation:
Fermentation is a delicate time. We are working with 2 natural processes:
#1. a biological process…yeast changing sugar to alcohol; and all the influences on this process…of which there are many.
#2 is the natural extraction of desirable Aromas, flavors, color and texture from the skin, which we group under the name "phenolics" - a class of compounds that is huge and varied. For red wines in particular, much of winemaking success is to coax what is in the skins, out of the skins, into the wine.The extraction part….We do this coaxing, in fermentation, by letting the fermentation proceed at warm temperatures (80F); by mixing the skins (which float) with the developing wine liquid below; and by just the naturally enhanced extraction as the alcohol develops. As in many things in life; one can have too much (color and tannins) or too little (color and tannins). Our goal is to aid fermentation so that we get the tastes andcolor and aromas "just right" - with regard to being a mirror to the vineyard blockthey each come from.T omorrow I will do a "personality" summary on each of our blocks this year.
Zelma Long, Vilafonte winemaking partner