Jonathan tells of the next stages after the grape picking….
The harvest went very well, considering we had only completed the refrigeration system the day before and didn’t have any electricity on the first morning! Although we hired a colourful team of pickers through the seasonal employment agency, we were very lucky to have Colin and several other friends helping us. I don’t think we would have managed, physically or mentally, without them.
Since harvest we have pressed all the red wine. To get the fermented red skins into the press I have to dig them out of the concrete tanks by hand. It takes about an hour of frantic shovelling to empty the cuve – it’s a great work-out. When I emerged I was stained from head to toe in red wine and feeling quite tipsy from breathing the alcohol.
I have transferred the red wine to a mixture of new and used barrels to get a nice balance of oak characters without it tasting like sawdust. They require topping up each week to make sure the wine is protected from air. I am also trying to get the wine to undergo malo-lactic fermentation by special bacteria which convert the sharp malic acid to softer lactic acid.
The Muscat is lying on its lees (the dead yeast cells). Each week I stir up the lees to give the wine more richness and a creamier texture. I shall be bottling the white wines in winter but the red will stay in barrel until the summer.
We are progressing with the conversion of the winery to provide a shop and tasting room. Hopefully it will be finished in January and we will be able to start doing regular tasting sessions.