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Wine Blog


Carolyn Tillie
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I'm surprised to hear of blends being done before fermentation. The two wineries I work at -- and most of the ones I have inquired about -- pick, ferment, and barrel their blends separately and then do their blending right before bottling. Perhaps this practice is done by the larger wineries that are producing tens-of-thousands of cases, versus the smaller production wineries with which I am more familiar?

You've really never heard of a field-blend? There are a fair number of vineyards with different grapes planted somewhat at random and there is little choice but to crush the different grapes together. Other times it's just a choice made by the winemaker when the grapes arrive, some people believe that the blended wine will be better if the grapes spend their entire fermented lives together so to speak. But in general, especially with newer vineyards the grapes are all vinified seperately and then blended later.

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You've really never heard of a field-blend?  There are a fair number of vineyards with different grapes planted somewhat at random and there is little choice but to crush the different grapes together.  Other times it's just a choice made by the winemaker when the grapes arrive, some people believe that the blended wine will be better if the grapes spend their entire fermented lives together so to speak.  But in general, especially with newer vineyards the grapes are all vinified seperately and then blended later.

It is new to me -- and I just asked about it with Karen, our winemaker, who believes it is a procedure that occurs more with Zinfandel, Syrah, and some heftier grapes. She said she tried it once with some Cab and Malbec and was decidedly unhappy with the results. She is not that familiar with it as well and doesn't know many other Napa winemakers using the practice.

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It is new to me -- and I just asked about it with Karen, our winemaker, who believes it is a procedure that occurs more with Zinfandel, Syrah, and some heftier grapes. She said she tried it once with some Cab and Malbec and was decidedly unhappy with the results. She is not that familiar with it as well and doesn't know many other Napa winemakers using the practice.

This was until recently the standard practice in Chianti, Douro, and others. Most really old (50+ yrs) vineyards are harvested this way - Ridge Geyserville is a good example.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry for the long delay, dear friends. Explanation Here.

Our grapes were picked on Friday. Here is how they looked that morning:gallery_431_39_1097943519.jpg

And the vine:

gallery_431_39_1097943954.jpg

And our grapes getting picked:

gallery_431_39_1097944563.jpg

Although the grapes were processed on Friday, I'll wait and show you all those pictures next week.

Thanks for your patience.

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There's nothing like a vineyard at harvest time. I recently had the pleasure of being in the Priorato at harvest. Wow, are those grapes tasty!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Hope those of you with a slower internet load will be patent -- there are LOTS of pictures coming now:

The grapes that were picked last week get transferred to larger bins:

gallery_431_39_1098201849.jpg

With a forklift, one by one, they are dumped into sorter:

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Each cluster is carefully reviewed -- those unworthy of being wine are discarded.

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A backshot of the sorter -- the grapes then go into a de-stemmer and, using the gravity method, slide down a shaft into a tank:

gallery_431_39_1098202150.jpg

Ladera was built in the 1880s as a gravity-method winery. Over the last four years, the Stotesberys have painstakingly restored it to be used as a gravity method winery. Here is a shot of the grapes from the top floor of the winery, falling down VIA GRAVITY to the second level.

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On the bottom level, we have open-topped fermenters. Most of the grapes start here for hand-punch downs (versus pump overs).

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What it looks like inside a tank, after MUCH punch-down has been done (more juice):

gallery_431_39_1098204735.jpg

I'm sorry the picture is dark (there isn't much light anyway). This is Roberto on our catwalk, up above the open-top fermenters, working the pneumatic punch-down system. This will happen for five to twenty days, depending on the grapes.

gallery_431_39_1098204775.jpg

Next week: Pressing the juice and going into barrels. By the way, if you have never visited a winery during crush, it is an unbelievable experience. There is an aroma lingering in the air that is impossible to describe. Occasionally you pick fruit flies out of your teeth, but this is a minor annoyance.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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