The grapes are picked at night into 30 lb trays (champagne boxes) which are then dumped one by one onto an elevated conveyor where the crew begins the first step of the process. Crew members stand at the side of the conveyor picking out the leaves and rotten bunches before the grapes are dropped into a destemmer where they are destemmed, not crushed.
From the vibrating table, the berries move to a third, flat conveyor where the rest of the crew tediously picks out the little pieces of stem, jacks and any remaining leaves. On average, we have at least six to eight crew members working the flat conveyor to make sure the crop is pure before entering the fermentation tanks.
From there, the whole berries, skins and juice are pumped into the fermentation tanks for a 25-30 day maceration period. During this maceration period, the tanks are pumped over and pressed down twice a day to give the juice the best possible flavor and color.
This process is very slow going (about 1.5 tons per hour), but is worth it because the final quality of the wine is so good. We wouldn't have it any other way!
- Pierre Birebent, Vineyard Manager & Winemaker, Signorello Vineyards