Thursday, November 4, 2010

Home Winemaking installment #4 - Jen & Lindsey’s Cellar – No men allowed *

Wow, harvest has come and gone so quickly. I have to admit that Jen and I have been slacking in our commitment to our winemaking experiment. We luckily were informed that Wednesday was the last day of harvesting and just in time. Now, if we truly wanted to experience winemaking, we needed to head out to the winery and snag some of the year’s final grapes. Yes, we must be honest in that the idea of taking a short cut did entice us. We could grab some fermenting or fermented wine from the tanks in the winery. Our consciences got the better of us. Regretfully, though, neither the Viognier nor the Syrah were available as both were already fermenting.

We were able to get four buckets of Cabernet Sauvignon. It had gone through the de-stemmer, so we received buckets with both juice and grapes but, naturally, no stems. We began with the most important aspect of the process: analysis.

Brix – 21 degrees
pH – 3.45
TA – 7

Both the pH and TA are great. The only thing we would like to adjust is the level of brix. The reason is that brix measures the sugar content in the grapes, which during fermentation is turned into alcohol. Once fully fermented, a level of 21 degree brix will generate around 11% alcohol, a relatively low level for a red wine. Our goal will be to reach between 12 and 14% alcohol. To be able to reach this level, we will need to add sugar. It may seem strange to add table sugar. Despite the common assumption that this will turn the wine sweet, the added sugar will instead turn to alcohol during fermentation.

Our first step is to kick off this fermentation process. The grapes contain natural yeast and if left to their own accord, will ferment, but not quickly enough. So, we are adding yeast to speed up the progression. We pulled already acclimated yeast from tank #1 which had just been added to the Viognier. The juice was blended into our four buckets. Now it is time to wait for the process to begin. We cannot wait to share pictures of our fermenting Cabernet Sauvignon. We also hope to share with you our end result. Be warned, we are amateurs and have no idea how it will turn out, but we promise to keep you posted on all “J & L Cellar” tastings.

*The question on everyone’s mind is, of course, why “no men allowed?” According to French tradition, women are bad luck in the cellar. We are neither French nor bad luck, so we decided to set up our own shop in a small corner of the warehouse.

1 comment:

  1. Have fun... my wife and I got 2,100Lbs of Merlot from Del Rio 1.5 weeks ago. Rob was great... in the middle of crush he gave us tour of their operation. Good luck with the wine making.