Archive for the ‘Post Harvest’ Category

Computer catch up

October 5th, 2017

Add a comment

Just before the harvest (apart from all our preparation work), we were occupied by a series of computer training sessions. Well, not so much computer training, but rather software training. During 2017 we have been progressively rolling out our new, updated software package. We started with accounts, eventually moving on to stock, bottling, labelling and then finally, we turned to the harvest. This has been a huge undertaking, and despite the training (carried out mostly at break-neck speed), we are now trying to put into practice all the procedures that we were shown in theory – and it is by no means an easy task!

Indeed, we made a decision at the very beginning of the harvest that we would only enter the bare minimum of information into the system, and the vast majority we would input later when the pressure was off (keeping copious records on paper as in previous vintages). The last couple of weeks, we have spent hour after hour staring at our screens, sometimes just trying to figure out how to make it all work – connecting the theory with the reality is not quite as simple as you might think.

Although today’s photo is not very high quality you might still be able to make out that nearly every tank in our cellar is full. A few tanks are deliberately left empty merely give us some space to work – for example, when racking, we need to have at least one empty tank to re-locate the wine.

Harvest Report 2017

September 26th, 2017

Add a comment

Wine making update

September 25th, 2017

Add a comment

I just finished writing an e-mail to someone a moment ago, apologising that our bodega was in a bit of a ‘limbo’ state during their very recent visit. Meaning that whilst our obvious priority is the wine making, we are also undertaking cleaning, some re-painting and preparing orders. This period of activity is almost more exhausting than the harvest itself. Clocks and calendars are completely meaningless as all of our days fuse into one long extended week – weekends simply don’t apply. Our work timetable is dictated entirely by all the essential cellar work as the transition from must into wine bluntly refuse to take a day off!

Unfortunately (from a rest day point of view), the weekend just gone was probably the busiest of the entire wine making process. With the fermentations well under way, as I have previously mentioned, there are quite a number of tank additions that have to be made at this time – bentonite perhaps being the most significant of these. Bentonite is our choice of fining agent, for clarifying our wine, and was first discovered in Fort Benton, Wyoming (so no prizes for where the name originates), and is a type of clay made from volcanic ash. Not only does the bentonite drag all the unwanted solids and dead yeasts to the bottom of the tank, but also helps to keep the wine stable during fermentation. As it is a natural product, it also means that all of our wines are suitable for vegetarians.

Our grape reception area which was extended just before harvest, is now getting just a little more pampering as we give it a new lick of paint, just before we re-fill it completely with 2,000 empty harvest baskets ready for next year. For a space that is only used for 7-10 days a year, it’s certainly had more than it’s fair share of attention recently!

Posted in Bodega, Post Harvest

 

Something very interesting happened this morning when I got out of bed – I didn’t rush to the window to check on the weather. I also stopped trawling through the weather websites, at least until next year. So when I eventually did leave home and discovered that it actually was raining, I really didn’t care!

So our attention now turns to the contents of our tanks – the grape must. The first thing that I have to say is that we are thrilled with the fruit that we have collected, and so taking into account that quality ALWAYS originates in the vineyard, we should have have the raw material to make some very good wine in 2017 (to sell in 2018).

It’s true to say that no matter how much experience we have working our harvests, we will always be looking for new ideas and ways to improve our working practices in the future. We keep notes of these ideas, discuss them, and then perhaps incorporate one or two in the next vintage. There are also clearly one or two things that are fundamental to a successful campaign – forward planning is vitally important to a smooth and less stressful harvest, as is having a well organised, well-drilled team around us – thankfully we do.

Posted in Bodega, Post Harvest

Wine & Churros 2Now that the vendimia is behind us and the fermentations are at an end, we continue with the ongoing task of deep cleaning the wine cellar. There are some areas, including the tank room, that we are pretty much unable to touch until the wines are finished and the tanks firmly closed. (During our fermentations the tanks have to be left open to allow the huge amounts to CO2 generated to escape – supported by a strong air extraction system so that we don’t all expire whilst working from a lack of oxygen!)

In the pressing room for example, the presses themselves have been thoroughly cleaned, albeit that they still need to be re-assembled and some of the internal parts fixed back inside.

Today’s photo shows some of these pieces – the long rubber ‘fingers’ extending from the steel parts that you can see, are the pieces that help to break up the grapes and bunches as the machine rotates during pressing (in a similar action to the modern washing machine, as it rotates gently back and forth during the cycle). The long brown fingers of the press are ribbed, and really, really remind me of the very famous Spanish delicacy ‘churros’, which are traditionally eaten with a thick hot chocolate drink – the churros themselves being used for ‘dunking’ in the cup!.

I’m afraid that these rubber fingers, even if they were sprinkled with sugar and dipped in chocolate, wouldn’t taste quite the same!

The last leg

October 19th, 2016

Add a comment

Density watchOur fermentations have been underway for some time now, but we are very much on the home stretch. The very first tanks that we seeded are already complete, and can now be sulphured to ensure that no unwanted, secondary fermentation will start during the lees ageing period. Of course in some vintages, when the acidity is particularly high, we might actually encourage a second, malolactic fermentation in some of the tanks. This will convert the (harsh, green, metallic tasting) malic acid, into the much softer, more palatable lactic acid (found in milk products). These tanks can then be blended throughout the cellar in order to lower the average acidity in the rest of the tanks.

However, 2016 is different. We have a beautifully balanced wine in terms of fruit and acidity, and so no further adjustments will be required. It is now just a question of watching each tank closely until all the remaining sugar has been consumed…. not long now!

Must tastingIn all my years as a wine buyer, I still maintain that one of the most difficult tastings of all was that of a raw wine – a wine that was either still fermenting, had just finished fermenting, or was perhaps undergoing its malolactic fermentation. This is the moment when any wine buyer worth his or her salt, would have to rely on their crystal ball – to look into and predict the future of what the finished wine might look like. I can tell you that it is no easy task which in the end, simply comes down to experience.

In the case of our own wine cellar it is not quite so complicated, as effectively, we only have one wine (or at least one grape variety). The main difference being, from my point of view, that there is no major buying decision hanging in the balance! Even so, tasting a raw white wine, especially from a variety with high acidity, still requires a pretty strong constitution.

As our wines approach the end of fermentation (they can now officially be called wine rather than must), we can finally start to assess the true potential of the vintage. Of course, at the very beginning, the grape juice itself is always a pretty accurate indicator, but it is only now that we can begin to really see how the finished wines might really look.

Our tank tastings so far have revealed almost exactly what we had anticipated – extremely fruity wines with good weight and structure, but whilst still retaining their fresh albariño acidity. An alcohol of about 12.5% also provides additional mouthfeel. And so all we have to do now is wait – another 6 to 8 months resting on their lees, and then we can pass our final judgement.

Case mountain

October 11th, 2016

Add a comment

Case mountainAs you may already be aware, all of our fruit is picked by hand (the pergola system of vine training does not allow machine harvest), and gathered in small baskets of around 18-20kg (40lbs). The cases are open, well ventilated and chosen specifically to avoid fruit being prematurely crushed and preventing any possible fruit oxidation.

Over the years many cases have been lost or broken, sometimes causing a bottleneck in fruit collection as grape suppliers have to wait for cases to be emptied and re-cycled. This year we added 1,000 new cases to prevent any delay in delivering our fruit from vineyard to press as quickly as possible.

Although they are washed and re-cycled during the picking period, at the end of every campaign they still need to be thoroughly cleaned using our pressure washing machines, and then stored in our grape reception until they are required again next year. In common with the grape reception itself they are only used once a year for a period of about one week. In the meantime they simply form a part of our very own case mountain….

Posted in Bodega, Post Harvest

Vintage Report 2016This might seem like a slightly odd post to make on our blog, but it’s only to make you aware of an addition to our ‘DOWNLOADS’ section of this website. If you click on the download menu you can find the new 2016 Harvest Report in full (but so far, only in English – the Spanish translation will appear soon). This is really intended as a supplement to all my harvest posts of the last couple of weeks, and gives much more information about the growing season prior to the picking itself.

Of course, I can’t claim that it makes great bedtime reading, but it might just help you to get to sleep!

Back to business

September 29th, 2016

Add a comment

Back to businessDespite the wine making process now keeping us fully occupied, we also have to sell a bit of wine to fund it all. Although we don’t actually close, or refuse any orders during the harvest, our resources are always at full stretch, and consequently any order that does arrive has to be temporarily put on hold. As soon as the picking is finished, then we immediately get to work on any backlog.

Today we had our first post-harvest collections, and it is always quite gratifying to see a queue of trailers outside the bodega waiting to pick up stock. Knowing that there are customers waiting to ship our wine to different corners of the world always helps to make our extensive workload just that bit easier to bear.

Posted in Bodega, Post Harvest