As 2016 harvest comes to an end, we thought it would be fun to take a look at
a grape's journey from crushpad to barrel.
At our Mayacamas Estate, we receive grapes from our nearby vineyards within minutes of harvest.
The first step is to put the fruit through a destemmer.
What we’re left with is fruit and stems.
The stems go into our compost to become fertilizer for the farm and ranch.
After the fruit has been destemmed, it is fed into a steel tank (1500 gallons to 2500 gallons) or a T-bin (240 gallons), depending on the amount of fruit, for fermentation. We use large hoses and a pump to push the grapes into the appropriate tank or T-bin (each block goes into its own tank or T-bin).
Once the fruit is in tank or T-bin, it stays there for the fermentation process. We have to constantly rotate the juice from the bottom of the tank to the top to break up the pomace (or skins) cap that forms
at the top--skins float. In our tanks, we have an arm that spins around the inside of the tank
spraying the juice over the pomace cap. This is called a “pump over.”
For the smaller lot wines in T-bins, we “punch down” the pomace cap to break it up.
The juice and the skins need to be in contact all the time.
Our winemakers have to monitor the temperature of the fermenting grapes to make sure it is
warm enough, but not too warm for the yeast to eat the sugar and eventually become alcohol.
The juice cannot exceed 90℉ or the yeast will be inhibited and consequently die.
Here, our Mayacamas Estate Winemaker Sal Godinez is looking for flaws
in the fermentation and aroma development...
... and samples some of the fermenting juice.
After fermentation is complete, the pomace is separated from the fermented juice. This fermented juice is called Free Run and is moved to a settling tank or T-bin for two days before it is racked (or siphoned) off the gross lees. Gross lees refers to debris that has settled to the bottom of the tank or T-bin. “Gross” refers to the size of the debris. When you make wine from fresh fruit, it is inevitable that some of the grape skins, seeds, and perhaps even a stray stem could wind up in the bottom of your tank or T-bin.
The pomace then goes into the press.
Our press has a large bladder inside with little holes. The bladder shrinks, squeezing all of the fermented juice
out of the pomace. This fermented juice is called Press Fraction.
You can still press approximately 15% more fermented juice from the pomace at this point.
It is kept separate from the Free Run, as it has a different flavor profile.
Fermented juice coming out of the press (aka Press Fraction).
Sal samples some of the fermented juice to determine press cuts or separations
for the first 50% of Press Fraction. The wine that comes out in the first few minutes
is not as astringent as the last gallons, so they are separated.
After two days of settling, the wine is ready to be transferred (or racked) to the
oak barrels selected for each lot. Follow the hose from tank to barrel...
Each wine spends a different amount of time in barrel, depending on the flavor, color
and body profile our winemakers are trying to achieve.
And then, we blend and bottle. But, we’ll save that story for another time.
How to spot a winemaker:
Water resistant boots...
...and purple hands.
ARTISAN OF THE MONTH
What is your role at Long Meadow Ranch (LMR)?
I am one part winemaker, one part production manager and one part problem solver. I am the winemaker for the LMR Farmstead range of wines and also manage packaging, bottling and logistics for all wines, olive oil, vinegar and grappa made by LMR. As a result, I get to wear a lot of different hats and no two days are the same.
How long have you been with LMR?
Since July 2015.
What has been your favorite project at LMR?
In 2016, we redesigned all of our olive oil bottles and packaging. I worked with our olive oil maker, marketing team, and suppliers to create a final package that is functional and eye-catching. I got a tremendous feeling of pride in helping bottle these world-class olive oils. It also made me appreciate how much creativity and talent there is within LMR.
What do you wish other people knew about LMR?
How unique our wines and winemaking style is. When you taste our wines, you are struck by how different they are to most of our peers’ wines. Our wines demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to expressing the delicate and nuanced characteristics of our estate vineyard sites. They also show that our goal is not to chase block-buster wines and high scores.
Tell us how you got into winemaking. Was it a natural fit from the start or did you take various avenues before landing in the field... etc.?
I am a native of Sydney, Australia and started my working life as a lawyer. I quickly realized that this career path had limited opportunity for creative endeavors and (much to the disappointment of my mother) enrolled in a Masters program in winemaking. Over the next few years, I collected winemaking experience in Washington State, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, and the Willamette, Sonoma, and Napa Valleys. Like many professional refugees in the wine industry, I have never looked back.
What kind of trends are you seeing in the wine industry?
An increasing focus on sustainable winegrowing, energy and water efficient winemaking, and environmentally conscious packaging. Think organic viticulture, water recycling in wineries, and putting wines into keg rather than bottles.
What inspires you?
People who have built successful businesses that create jobs and can give back to the community.
Best vacation you have ever taken?
Trekking to Everest Base Camp.
Red or white wine?
Red, White, Pink, Sparkling and even Brown.
Bike or motorcycle?
Mountain bike on Mt Tam.
Sushi or pizza?
iPhone or Android?
Mountains or ocean?
Mountains with my Aussie Cattle Dog.
AT THE TABLE
Our Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with this colorful fall salad.
The citrus aromatics and crisp finish balance the combination of persimmons, radish, and citrus.
PERSIMMON, RADISH, AND WINTER CITRUS SALAD
Recipe Courtesy: Kipp Ramsey
3 Fuyu Persimmon, large dice
1 bunch Easter Egg Radish, thinly sliced
1 blood orange, segmented
½ c walnuts, toasted and chopped finely
½ c citrus dressing, recipe below
1 bag arugula or mustard greens
Chefs finishing salt, such as Maldons
Napa Valley Select Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other high quality EVOO
Optional: Espelette chili or hoshigaki (preserved Hachiya persimmon)
Lightly dress the persimmons and sliced radish with citrus dressing. Season with salt and arrange on your serving dish. Toss greens with remaining dressing and place on top. Add the blood orange segments around the plate. Finish with walnuts, a drizzle of honey and olive oil.
Yield 1 cup
¼ c lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Honey, to taste
¾ c Napa Valley Select Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other high quality EVOO
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil while whisking until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
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