A new view of the Chardonnay fermentation

October 4, 2011

Yesterday we racked the second lot of Belli Chardonnay off its’ juice lees. We usually wait to inoculate with yeast until the juice warms up to around 50 degrees F. Oftentimes it is pretty warm out during harvest, and we can just allow ambient heat do the warming for us, but since it was so cool out we decided to speed things up with our tank warmer.

Our tank warmer is a really handy piece of equipment. All of our tanks have fittings on them so we can warm the tanks up when necessary (e.g. towards the end of the fermentation when the yeast may become weaker). The heating jacket on the portable tanks is the dimpled metal surface in the picture above, the dimples cause the warm water passing through to become slightly turbulent, increasing the efficiency with which heat is exchanged. In this picture you can see the hoses that lead from the tank warmer hooked up to the jacket. Without this setup, it would probably have taken a full day or more to get the juice up to the temperature we wanted, with it we only had to wait a couple of hours before we were able to inoculate with Prisse de Mousse.

The first Belli Chardonnay fermentation was started off in one of our 1360 gallon tanks. There isn’t really much light that penetrates into the permanent stainless steel tanks, so we weren’t able to get a picture of the Chardonnay as it started to ferment. Since this second lot is starting off in one of our portable tanks, we got a pretty good shot of what happens when the fermentation is just beginning.

The first sign that the fermentation is taking off is a thin crust forming on the surface. This crust is composed of yeast cells and the very small amount of grape solids that remain, buoyed up by the carbon dioxide the yeast are starting to produce. When the fermentation is strong enough to break this crust, we will know that it is time to put the juice down to barrel to finish fermenting.

Soon it will be time to chill this juice back down and put it to barrel. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see what’s been going on with our Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon!

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

 
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One Response to “A new view of the Chardonnay fermentation”

  1. Cindy Buckle said

    Micah, Thanks for publishing this information. Pretty darn cool.
    I never thought I would care about how wine is made, but your writing has sparked my interest. Keep writing and I will keep reading. Thanks again

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