With the pressing of the Cabernet Sauvignon last week for our new Rockgarden Cellars label, more on that later, Nathan now has all of the 2012 vintage tucked safely away in dozens of French oak barrels. While resting in these barrels, the molecules that make up wine perform their secret magic. Just what goes on inside those barrels over the winter is a bit of a mystery to me. How can it go into the barrel tasting so raw, for lack of a better word, and come out the following year transformed into a luxurious, complex wine of elegance? I marvel at it all.
In this image you can see the "bladder" in our press as we released some of the water from it. As it fills, this expandable rubber bladder presses against the perforated side walls of the press and provides a beautifully gentle pressing, perfect for our red grapes, especially our delicately flavored Pinot Noir. This gentle press helps to prevent the over-pressing of the seeds that can inject a bitterness into the wine if pressed too hard. This bladder press however, falls a bit short in the pressing of our Chardonnay or any other white grape. You see, red wines are made by fermenting the grapes first, then pressing after the juice has set on the skins for weeks. For white wine, we press the grapes before fermenting, dumping the whole clusters into this delicate press. We found we were losing too much juice in the unpressed clusters near the top and bottom. This press just wasn't going to cut it... unless! We decided we had to pre-crush the Chardonnay clusters before tossing them into the press. This would break up the individual berries enough so the press could squeeze out the juice. But how?? Hmmm... I've got it!! I'll do the Lucy routine! Turn up the music! Give me my Rolling Stones station on Pandora. Some water. Some wine. Let's go to town, guys!
|My red boots go to work!|
|View from the crushpad during my afternoon stomp|
|The cold room slowly emptying|
|Ready for more!|
|Empty lugs tossed with abandon into the dark night!|
|You can see how dry these grapes are. We got a wonderful pressing this year,|
thanks to The Stomp!