No rest for the wicked!
Its not uncommon for folks to listen to stories of the crazy time that is vintage then ask: "So what do you do for the rest of the time?"
Well. Lets start with the massive clean up of the winery, trying to make room for the next steps. Important equipment that is used only during vintage such as the press and the crusher get thoroughly cleaned and sanitised then mothballed until next year.
Alongside this is loads of analysis, keeping track of the new whites to ensure that they have finished ferment and are settling then are sulfured as needed to keep them sound. And keeping track of the reds for the same reasons but also they need to go through MLF: malolactic fermentation which is actually a bacterial conversion to clear the wine of malic acid, softening it and making it unlikely to spoil. Given that we have dozens of barrels and many batches in tanks this is a full time job in itself!
Then the 2014 barrels need to be retrieved from the back corner to which they were relegated during vintage. They each get checked for soundness, topped with some wine to keep them full, and analysed and sulfured as necessary. Then the blends begin. Those reds and whites to go to the next bottling get sampled and a "bench blend" is made, to find the best combination of the batches if there are a few, and finalise the style of the wine. The wine is then all pumped out of barrels in to tanks, where it is stabilised and settled and final chemistry is checked.
The whites that are going to bottle soon are "racked": the solids of grapes and ferment have settled to the bottom and the clean wine is pumped gently from above them. The wine is then stabilised and again final chemistry checked and any adjustments made.
Meanwhile Jo gets busy finalising label design for the new wines, ordering bottles, screw caps, cartons, dividers and everything else needed for bottling. Next week the portable cross flow filtration expert arrives with his machine and each wine to be bottled gets a final polish to be clear and fresh.
And of course we are also running cellar door four days a week, managing orders, deliveries, trade visits, press samples and whatever else is needed!
We'll let you know how we go with bottling - exciting times!