Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 Winery Crush

photo by Kristina Dunn
In the northeastern Napa Valley hills, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were ready to begin harvest.  These grapes are hand-picked by intense human labor.

Lately the weather has gone from beautiful sunny, warm days to cold, dreary, rainy days.  It challenged winemakers in this region.  The grapes pictured below were picked around the 14-15th of October.
photo by Kristina Dunn
Some of the most beautiful grapes the world has to offer.
photo by Kristina Dunn
The grapes in bins are emptied into the top of the de-stemmer.  The stems come out the end, and the grape berries are fed through a tube into large stainless-steel tanks.
After a couple of days, when the grapes have hit their proper sugar level (brix), the juice created by gravity weight is pumped over (~four times per day), so that the juice comes into the most possible contact with the grape skins.  This pump-over occurs for about a week, until the grapes are ready for crush.
This is a small press used for the small-lot Petit Syrah grapes, for a small batch of home-use wine.  Also, (mostly unfermented) grape juice for the family's use is pressed this way.
A photo of grapes about to get pressed for the rest of their rich juice.
Alternately, bins of grapes from the holding tanks go into the electric press.  Juice goes into a tube heading for a clean tank, like the one pictured below.
Fermentation finishes in these tanks.
Fermented grape juice from the stainless tanks, also known as wine, is eventually placed into new French oak barrels to age for two to three years in an underground cave (naturally controls temperature and humidity).

Hubby learned quite a bit about winemaking on his working vacation.

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