Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Napa Cellars: When a Tank Goes “Dry”

When the juice finally ferments to below 0.01 residual sugars, the “Must” is pressed. This process involves many steps. First of all the juice (we can officially call it wine at this point). Is drained into another tank. What is leftover is all the skins and seeds that have been soaking in fermenting juice for about a week. This is when the fun starts. We shovel out the seeds and stems into a macro bin. This is only a small tank so most of the must can be reached from our little gate here.

On the bigger tanks somebody has to crawl inside to shovel out the must. On the largest tanks we have, (they hold about 45 tons of grape skins and seeds) we play a little game. If you can shovel it out in under 1 hour the company will buy you lunch. Needless to say this creates a very competitive atmosphere. I will keep you posted on the times when those get shoveled out.

Once all of the must is shoveled out it goes into a press. At first the press lightly squeezes the berries and gets any leftover wine out of them. That wine is pumped into its own special tank. Next, we crank up the pressure and really squeeze whatever might be left in the berries out. Since the berries and seeds have all the tannins, squeezing them produces really tanic dark wine. This juice is again pumped into its own special tank to keep all those tannins out of our nice clean wine. Later, if the winemaker chooses to, he will add little bits and pieces of these “pressed” wines to the “free run” wine until it reaches the desired tastes and texture. Things are fermenting well and moving really fast. Yesterday we drained and pressed about 10 tanks. Its a lot of hard work but somebody has to do it. As of the end of September we have received a total of 1344 tons of grapes. That breaks down into 466 tons in white grapes and 878 tons of red grapes.

Only 2506 tons to go.

Living the dream ~ Jacob.

Follow the Napa Cellars harvest interns, Jacob & Andrew, as they work Harvest 2012!

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