Pumping out the first lot of Belli Chardonnay

October 12, 2011

The first barrel lot of Belli Chardonnay, with grapes from blocks 3 and 5, was very close to being finished with its’ fermentation yesterday morning, so we decided to pump it out to a tank.

There are several reasons for doing this. For one, the yeast tend to become stressed towards the end of the fermentation. This happens because of the rising concentration of alcohol and decreasing concentration of sugar, and because the wine tends to cool down as the fermentation winds down, moving the temperature outside of the optimal range of the yeast. While we can’t do anything about the changes in the levels of alcohol and sugar, pumping the wine out to a tank gives us the opportunity to use our tank heater to keep the wine warm, coaxing the yeast through the end of the fermentation.

Another reason it’s a good idea to pump the wine out at this stage is that, if the fermentation is uneven (some barrels are not fermenting strongly), it allows us to combine the strongest fermenting barrels with the ones that are a little weaker, increasing the likelihood that the fermentation will go dry.

So, today we’ve got the wine out of the barrels and warmed up to about 70 degrees F, and the surface of the wine is bubbling away with the last bit of the fermentation. This is actually a precarious time from a winemaking perspective, because if something goes wrong in the fermentation now (such as the production of hydrogen sulfide or other off-odors), there isn’t much time to fix it before the fermentation ends. Fortunately, since we’ve managed this juice well since the start, this fermentation smells just fine.

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

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