I had the pleasure of working Harvest 2013. If anyone tells you harvest work is easy, they’re LYING! It is crazy hard work with long hours, but is a ton of fun. I learned more about wine and the industry in the 2 months I worked harvest than I have in my 22 years.
The most commonly asked question during harvest is “How is everything tasting?” Well, this isn’t something we can answer right away. The grapes we get are pressed into juice, and who doesn’t like fresh squeezed juice?! We can finally start to evaluate how harvest went as a whole when malolactic(ML) fermentations start to finish.
During ML one of the primary acids in grapes-malic acid-is converted into lactic acid. This is important because malic acid can be very acidic tasting, which can be desired in white wines, but usually not in reds. Lactic acid on the other hand is much softer tasting. In the pictures below you will see Brian, our assistant winemaker, performing paper chromatography to get a rough estimate if there is malic acid left in the wine.
|Brian is putting drops of wine on the chromatography paper.|
|He then drops the paper into chromatography solvant.|
|With time, the solvant will crawl up the paper.|
|Once the paper has dried, it turns to these colors and we are able to determine if any malic acid is left in the wines.|
The bottom yellow dot is tartaric acid, the middle is malic, and the top lactic. Brian will test the wines once a week until the lactic acid dot is no longer visible. After that he will confirm the quantity of malic acid remaining using a spectrophotometer.
When malolactic fermentation is finished, antioxidants will be added to the wines to prevent any further undesired activity. Then the wines are left to age for anywhere from 12 to 30 months in barrel before being blended, bottled, and enjoyed!
So back to the question about “How are the wines tasting?” Well, we can officially say everything is tasting great! Rogue Valley could not have gone any better. This is where we get all our amazing big reds-Cabernet, Malbec, Syrah, etc. Despite the cold and rainy spell we had in September, there was no rot or significant losses. Everything got perfectly ripe-Hooray!
The Willamette Valley wines are starting to show very nicely as well. The rain caused a lot of problems for wineries who source from the valley, but with diligent sorting (which you can see a picture of below) we got rid of any compromised fruit. The Pinots are tasting very nice and are surprisingly full bodied. The Early Muscat flavors are fantastic and due to the cold weather in September, retained a lot of balancing acidity that is usually lost.
Altogether, 2013 looks like it is going to be a very good vintage for us and we can’t wait to share the wines with you all!
Here are some fun photos from harvest:
|We receive all our grapes in picking bins like this.|
|All of our reds get put in the bin dumper and dumped onto the shaking and sorting tables.|
|Once the grapes have been sorted they go into bins or tanks.Skins have to come in contact with the juice to get the beautiful color in red wines,so we do punch downs at least once a day.|
|Once the wines are almost done fermenting we get rid of the skins.This is me shoveling Pinot Noir skins out of a tank!|
|This was the day where I dubbed us the “Three Ring Circus”-we had 4 different trucks delivering grapes, 2 fork lifts going all while processing some whites in the press.|
|A beautiful Tempranillo cluster!|