My sleep patterns are irregular these last few days and I’ve been ignoring my housework. I’m eating on the run and neglecting my correspondence. I’ve got crud under my fingernails, my eyes are bleary, my muscles ache, my clothes are stained purple and I’m listening to altogether too much oompa loompa Cumbia. Am I having a nervous breakdown? NO! I’m a new winemaker who can’t stop hovering over her grapes! Woo hooo!
Friday morning I went into Barón Balchés vineyard and harvested my Grenache along with a professional team of grape pickers who (fortunately) really knew what they were doing 😉
With the help of a friend and his trusty pick-up the crates of fruit were hauled to Rancho Codocana in Guadalupe where they were crushed into a tank then hauled to the cold room.
I withheld two crates from the crush because I wanted to add whole berries to the must (wine language for the juice after crush) for a partial carbonic fermentation (this adds more esters and fresh fruit flavors to the wine).
It took me a couple of hours to sort through the fruit, pulling out raisins and unripe berries from the tight, sticky clusters. My dog, Lily shadowed me all day and stood guard attentively while her mama contentedly sorted fruit.
Saturday morning bright and early my Syrah from San Vicente Valley arrived and those were crushed and put in their own tank in the cold room. The Syrah grapes are larger, looser berries and this harvest was more uneven than the Grenache with quite a bit of small, unripe grapes that had me worried. I added natural enzymes to the must which aid in releasing desirable aromas and flavors while reducing disagreeable “green” extractions. I hope this will help.
Sunday morning the Grenache is vigorously fermenting and maintaining healthy temperatures. And the juice from both tanks tastes delicious. Yay!
I had a friendly conversation with neighbor, Hector Neira, the new Chilean enologist at Château Camou the other day. Hector is a proponent of biodynamic viticulture (pertaining to vineyard management) and winemaking. He’s been making a lot of changes at Château Camou and it will be very interesting to see how his current vintages turn out. Among other things he talked about how colors, sound, lighting, even the shape of a room can influence the wine. At first this sounded a little “woo woo” and over-the-top to me. I’m really just worried about getting the basics down at this point. On the other hand, another highly esteemed winemaker, Dr. Victor Torres of Vinos Torres Alegre, echoed some of these sentiments and plays classical music at his bodega. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover other winemakers who sing to their grapes or install mood lighting to encourage good vibes ….. These thoughts crossed my mind as I entered the bodega this morning and was greeted by a bouncy Cumbia cover of “Cotton Fields” playing over the radio. Perhaps my wine will be a tad spicier due to this happy influence? At any rate I figure it can’t hurt to think loving thoughts while working with the grapes. I like the idea that consumers will taste the love and the music in every happy cup.