We finished harvest on September 30 with high quality grapes on our hands. However, the cellar is still abuzz with activity at least for another month as the 2016 wines finish the fermentation process.
On this fine fall day I took a walk through the cellar. If only there were scratch & sniff blog posts-the smell is heavenly with all the aromatics from fermenting wine! My first stop was in the white wine barrel room where the 2016 F. Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay has finished its’ first fermentation and now will go through the second fermentation. This process, called malo-lactic fermentation, changes the sharper malic acid to the milder lactic acid. Use these two foods to ‘get the picture’: tart green apple acidity changes to the softer butter-like acidity.
Red wine tanks continue to be drained once fermentation is finished, on a staggered schedule as they finish 10 days or so after being picked. The solids are pressed off (now called pomace--see below) and the wine is sent to a storage tank to undergo malo-lactic fermentation. All of our red wines except the Port goes through this secondary fermentation.
A quick check at the lab where winemaker Montse Reece is testing samples of wines just finished with fermentation shows one lot of Chardonnay where she is checking for dryness (fermented to no residual sugar), the red wine sample in the middle one is our Port that is headed into barrels, bypassing the secondary fermentation because of the high alcohol in this fortified wine. The third sample is our Dry Rose of Zinfandel in the lab for a color intensity check up.
As the month continues the cellar crew will press off a few more tanks and all of the red wines will take a month or so to go through the second fermentation turning them a bit softer and ready for their time in barrel. More soon as we take our time in October finishing the vintage. A toast with some Chardonnay in my Dino to time in the cellar!