Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: 2008 Harvest, Hein, La Encantada, Pressing, Yeasts
We’re wrapping up the labor-intensive part of the winemaking process as both our 2008 Hein Vineyard and La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noirs were pressed this morning. Grapes from both of the vineyards came in less than two weeks ago and went through cold soak first and then fermentation. Cold soak usually lasts about 4-5 days and is intended to increase extraction of color and other compounds from the skins. During fermentation, the grapes go into a warm room and get as warm as 90+ degrees. It’s the process where the sugars, with the help of yeast, convert into alcohol.
So when the sugars in the grapes get down to about 2 brix or less, then it’s time for pressing. Luckily for our schedules, both Hein and La Encantada were ready for pressing at the same time. For Hein, we actually didn’t even need to press – our barrel is going to 100% free run juice. This is purely the juice from the bin in which the grapes have been soaked, punched down and fermented. After this many days, the skins of the grapes have broken down and there is a lot of juice in those bins. The main reason we did 100% free run is that some of the vineyards in Anderson Valley were affected by smoke from the fires in Mendocino County. To ensure that we didn’t get too much of the smoke residue that may be on the skins, we didn’t press the skins. That’s the one thing that is both exciting and stressful about making wine – every year is destined to be different. We sampled the Hein juice, which had a plum color with lavender tones, and it showed some bright fruit and a slightly earthy aroma. I think there could be some good complexity to this wine.
While there were wildfires up and down the state this summer and fall, La Encantada in Santa Barbara County wasn’t as affected by the smoke, so we went ahead and put free run and pressed juice into our barrel. The juice for La Encantada looks deeper and tastes intense and tart right now. I think this will be a pure fruit-intensive wine…it’s always hard to tell at this point, but things are looking good.
All of our Pinot Noirs this year are on a 33% new oak program, with one or two year old barrels making up the rest of the oak. We are mixing it up with the yeasts, though, sticking with native on Amber Ridge, but trying RC212 on Hein and La Encantada. So now we wait…and do barrel samples throughout the year to keep an eye on their progress. We’ll keep you posted!
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