Crushing the Monte Rosso Zinfandel

September 27, 2011



Today we finally started in on our 2011 reds. This is a very late year because of the cool spring and summer. Usually we harvest this Zin about two weeks earlier than we did this year.

The fruit got to the winery around 11:30 this morning.

We were a little worried the fruit might have gotten hot because it got warm out earlier than we’d expected, but it fortunately turned out to not really be a problem.

The fruit was very clean, and it was tasting really nice. Cosmetically, this is some of the nicest fruit we’ve gotten from Monte Rosso. There was no sign of the rot we’d been worried about from the rain on Sunday, and there was just the right amount of shrivel.


The only drawback today was that we only got around four tons of fruit out of the field, which means we won’t be able to make quite as much of this wine as we would have liked. Sadly, unpredictable yields are just the name of the game with old vine Zinfandel sometimes.

Crushing red grapes is a pretty different process than crushing whites. It starts off the same, with the grapes being dumped into the hopper. Instead of going to the press, however, the hopper moves the grapes to a machine called a destemmer.

As one might guess, the destemmer removes the stems from the clusters. The stems are deposited into a receiving bin.

When stems are still green like this, you need to exclude them from the fermentation. Failing to do so will result in unpleasant vegetal flavors.

Our destemmer is a very nice piece of equipment. We can actually dial in its’ speed so that all of the good fruit comes off, while any hard raisins stay on the stems and don’t make it into the wine.

While a little bit of shrivel is alright in Zinfandel, hard raisins can give an unpleasant pruney character to the wine.


Meanwhile the grapes move on towards the must pump, which pumps them into the tank where they will be fermented.

Our must pump is pretty gentle on the fruit, by the time the tank is filled it looks sort of like a giant bowl of blueberries. You want to avoid tearing the skins up during processing, as this can release very bitter and astringent phenolic compounds into the wine.

It may sound like a lot of steps, but our setup is very efficient, and processing the fruit does not take long at all. In fact, cleaning up is really the time consuming part! Be sure to check back tomorrow, we’ll be getting in the last of the Belli Chardonnay.

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


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