Saturday, September 29, 2007

Getting the 2007 vintage started

Time to destem (by hand) the four trays (36-lbs each) of Suisun Valley cabernet and merlot grapes. (The white flash you see on the grapes below is from the flash, not some unique, locally-derived fungal yeast!).

What you see above is the tray of cabernet sauvignon at top, the destemmed grapes going into a fermentation bucket at left, and stems going to wastebucket at right. Plastic gloves are a requirement for hand-destemming, unless you relish tannin stains on your hands and fingers for a few weeks. Hand-destemming is definitely not recommended for more than a couple trays of fresh grapes at a time. If you're doing larger quantities, get a machine, or have grapes destemmed before you pick them up. (The rest of my 2007 grapes will come as frozen must from Brehm Vineyards, eliminating the need to destem.)

Now, time to prepare the yeast starter. For this I rehydrated both D-254 and BM45 yeasts, putting about 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast plus 2 teaspoons of Go-Ferm into clean glasses with about a half-cup of filtered (not distilled) water.

From these starters, I added must to the glasses from time to time to build a bigger and stronger starter. Then these were added to the buckets of destemmed, crushed grapes. I split the batches of cabernet and merlot, putting D-254 and BM45 yeast into half of each. Though I'll continue fermentation separately and test results separately, I expect I'll blend at the end.

With my plan for cool red fermentation disillusioned, I will plan to ferment these at room temperature until just about dry, then remove to the basement for extended fermentation and the start of malolactic fermentation.

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