Cold soaking and inoculating the Monte Rosso Zinfandel

September 29, 2011



After crushing the Monte Rosso Zinfandel on Wednesday, we turned the thermostat on the tank down to 55 degrees F. This is a practice known as cold soaking. The reason that we cold soak Zinfandel (we generally do not do this to our other reds) is because of the shriveling that is so characterisitc of the variety.

Shriveled grapes are slightly dehydrated, meaning that they have a higher sugar content than grapes which are not shriveled. As the crushed grapes soak in the juice, the shriveled grapes will slowly release their sugar, making the juice sweeter over the several days following crushing. We like to let the sugar content of Zinfandel juice stabilize before we start the fermentation, since it may effect certain processing decisions down the line (e.g., if it is high, we might choose a more alcohol tolerant yeast).

One thing to bear in mind with cold soaking is the amount of energy it requires. When the ambient temperature around the tank is in the high 80’s, it can actually be difficult to hold a four ton mass of grapes at 55 F. This is one of the reasons that we only cold soak when it is absolutely necessary to the quality of the product.
Once we had finally determined what the sugar content of the must was, we turned the thermostat on the tank up to 80 degrees F and let the grapes start to warm up. Once the contents reached 60 degrees F (around 2:00 this afternoon), we made up a yeast culture and pitched it in. This time we decided to inoculate with V1116, also known as K1. This is a strong fermenting yeast with a clean, relatively neutral aroma. It is what is known as a ‘killer’ yeast, meaning that it produces compounds called ‘killer factors’ that inhibit the growth of other yeasts to help ensure a good, clean ferment.
To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.



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