Journal | September 30, 2016
Ne Ratez Pas
A cascade of red grapes and fermenters are filling the the cellar at a pace I have never experienced. We have harvested 80% of our entire red wine production in 6 days. Red harvest usually spans 3 weeks. Micro decisions present themselves minute by minute. In our small cellar I seem to spend way too much valuable time with a manual floor pallet truck moving very heavy bins, grape pallets and barrels. Making space available. I’m still not sure where we are going to put everything once we do our post-rain ‘salvage pick’ on Monday.
This is the most critical period in winemaking, especially red winemaking. The time line from the decision of when to pick to when to drain the wine off of the skins is about 3 weeks. After that a winemaker has very little influence that can significantly impact the wine. The one exception is blending decisions the come during the winter.
Making a mistake is our greatest fear. We’ve all worked incredibly hard throughout the growing season to get to this point. We’ll have over 30 red fermenters going. Each one has to have juice samples taken, yeast pitched, temperatures and fermentations monitored and regulated, pump overs and /or punch downs every morning and every evening. We will also be bringing in more grapes and crushing. Did I mention all the white wine barrels and tanks that need attention?
I had the opportunity to work with a winemaker from Bordeaux some years back. During the height of the crush she would rapid fire bark out assignments like a general at war. Every order would end with “Ne ratez pas“. Don’t screw up. This has become our motto.