A very busy couple of days

October 18, 2011



We’ve had a very welcome run of warm weather, and harvest is starting to kick off in earnest. Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve been doing this week;

The Belli Chardonnay has been racked off of its fermentation lees and blended to a single tank. We’re planning to barrel it down tomorrow, time permitting. It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to have it spend a few more days in tank, but with grapes coming in it’s a good logistical move to put it down to barrel as soon as possible, so we can free up tank space for the incoming fruit.

On Monday we started in harvesting the China Bowl Cabernet Sauvignon again, this time from the lower laying, flatter areas that take a little longer to ripen. We got through almost all of what was left, but then decided to give the pickers a rest (it was pretty warm out) and finish the block out on Tuesday.

We ended up picking almost exactly eight tons of China Bowl Cab on Monday (perfect for one of our larger tanks), we inoculated it with K1 and it took off fermenting hard right away. The headspace was full of carbon dioxide, and there was a slight cap starting to form Tuesday morning, so we gave it two quick fifteen minute pumpovers.

We still don't have a way to show you the pumpover in action, it's too dark inside the tanks, but this is the pumpover tool. The wine is pumped down the stem and over the blades at the bottom, which spin like helicopter rotors and spray the fermenting juice over the cap.

Tuesday morning we had pickers out in the field finishing out China Bowl. We estimated that we wouldn’t have quite enough coming off the rest of that block to fill out a tank, so when they were finished there we had them move up to the Montana Vista block. There they picked out the few ripest areas (with the rockiest, thinnest soil), and we crashed it together with the remainder of the fruit from China Bowl. We picked just over four and a half tons on Tuesday, which fit nicely into one of our smaller stainless steel tanks. We inoculated it with K1 and will probably start pumping it over tomorrow.

The sugar was still not particularly high in China Bowl, but the grapes are showing strong signs of physiological maturity. For instance, if you look at the cluster above, you will see that the stem has completely lignified (turned brown). This is generally considered to be an indicator of ripeness, especially in California where the weather is usually too warm for this kind of maturation to occur.

We also started splash racking our first lot of China Bowl Cabernet Sauvignon on Tuesday.

We use the copper screen to bind foul smelling sulfides and disulfides. The China Bowl Cab smells pristine, but we still like to use the screen during splash-racking because sometimes these compounds are present at levels so low that you can’t directly detect them. Instead, they alter the perception of other aromas, sometimes exaggerating vegetal characters, or diminishing fruity characters.

Between all that’s been going on in the vineyard and cellar our little crew has been stretched pretty thin, but that’s pretty much harvest in a nutshell! Be sure to check back soon for more updates.

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


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