Journal | October 22, 2018
The 2018 vintage ended abruptly and left us somewhat dazed for a while. It was an enormously stressful year in which inclement weather dictated hard work and tough decisions. Then it all ended without much fanfare.
All our reds grapes were pressed immediately and the rosé juice was fermented in tanks with little need for intervention. This was decided in response to the lack of tannin development and concentration in the grapes due to poor ripening conditions. In any other year we would be making red wine which requires many small fermentations, each needing monitoring and action every morning and every evening for a month past harvest. Subsequently the wine would be drained, skins pressed and then transferred into barrels. We would then continue to monitor secondary fermentations, run lab tests to confirm completion. In a good year, all activity would be resolved by December.
This year the white wine fermentations were well behaved and quick to finish. This can be attributed to the lower sugar levels in the grapes, which results in commensurately lower alcohols in the wines. The yeast can do their job more efficiently if there is less alcohol to contend with, especially right towards the end of fermentation where alcohol levels over 14% can slow or even stop yeast activity.
We are now essentially done and it is October. Never have we had so much free time ahead of us. We refer to our “Big Weekend” as being from mid-November through early February. During the growing season and harvest, decisions are reactive, mostly in response to the weather. Now we no longer have the weather dictating our day-to-day schedules. This is the time for reflection and long term planning.