Inoculating the Belli Chardonnay

September 26, 2011



After whole-cluster pressing the Belli Chardonnay last week, we put the juice in a tank and chilled it down to about 40 degrees F in a process known as ‘cold settling’. This allows whatever grape solids (pulp) that made it out of the press with the juice to sink to the bottom of the tank. Once they’ve had a few days to collect in the tank bottom, we pump the clean juice off of the solids into another tank in a process known as ‘racking’. The solids are then disposed of.

Then we turned the thermostat up on the tank to let the juice come up to about 55 degrees F, and that brings us to today; now that the juice has come up to temperature, we are ready to inoculate it with yeast and start the fermentation.

For Chardonnay, we like to use Lallemands’ EC 1118, also known as Prisse de Mousse.

Some wineries use what are called 'native fermentations' instead of inoculating with prepared yeast cultures. This is a perfectly valid technique, but it can sometimes be unreliable, giving a fermentation with off aromas, or sometimes refusing to finish out. Since we are so small, we have to get it right the first time, so we manage our risk in the cellar by using yeast cultures to inoculate. This particular yeast, Prisse de Mousse, lends a pleasant fruity aroma to the wine, and it is a strong fermentor that reliably consumes all of the sugar in the juice.

Inoculation is a simple but fun process. To inoculate, we take a couple of gallons of juice from the tank, and add just enough hot water to bring the juice up to around 100 degrees F. Then we dump in the freeze dried yeast into the heated juice and mix it. The yeast activates almost immediately. After about ten minutes, the carbon dioxide they are producing as they ferment will have formed a kind of dome in the bucket.

Funnily enough, the rising cap of the dome of yeast looks a little like rising bread dough.

Once the yeast are good and active, we pour them out into the waiting tank of juice. It will take a few days for the yeast to really kick off the fermentation in the tank, until then we’ll just hold it steady at 55 degrees F and wait.

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.


2 Responses to “Inoculating the Belli Chardonnay”

  1. Now this is a great idea and quite informative.

    We love you Richard

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