Journal | October 7, 2016
Drain and Press
Today is the first day of “drain and press” for some of our red wines. Some bins of fermented red grapes are now wine and it is time to separate the wine from the skins. We do this first by pumping the wine off of the skins through a colander-like screen. Usually the wine goes directly into barrel, but right now we are so backed up in the cellar that the wine will have to go into stainless steel tanks for several days to give us time to prepare barrels. The cellar is so crowded with bins, tanks and barrels that moving any large object becomes a major logistical event.
After draining the bins with the pump, there is still a lot of wine remaining in the skins and pulp. We then bucket the fermented grapes into our press and gently squeeze out the remainder of the wines. This press wine is of a different nature than the “free-run” wine and in kept and aged separately. Normally the press wine is an important blending component, but this press wine will not be of that caliber.
The bins of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that will be drained today are wines that will be for early drinking. The skin tannins were not ripe and generous enough to warrant a long time soaking on the skins. The wine would be unbalanced and “green” if it stayed in the fermenter any longer.
How do we know this? While on the sorting table we saw an inordinate amount of pink berries. I spent a lot of time tasting these berries specifically and found them to be under-ripe and not fully developed. While we try to sort out these berries, there were too many to make this practical. Fortunately there were only a few blocks were this was the case. The bigger question that will linger for years to come is “Why”?
We confirmed our suspicions in tasting the wines yesterday. They were pleasant, simple and light in color with some herbal notes. That is as good as they will get. Any longer time on the skins, the wine would become astringent and even vegetal. We have many bins with very good material that will go the distance and produce generous, structured wines. These will be our main focus in producing our flagship single vineyard wines.