2020 wine making – seeding the tanks

September 18th, 2020 | Bodega

Since finishing the picking last weekend we have been very busy inside, racking grape musts and initiating fermentation. The first week or so is extremely busy with quite intense activity leaving little time to sit down and write posts for our pages!

It goes without saying that we always try to grow our grapes and vinify our wines in the most natural way possible, with the minimum intervention. Whilst the resulting wines cannot actually be certified as organic or biodynamic, they can actually be classified as SUSTAINABLE.

If we ever decided to make a natural wine then this would restrict us to the exclusive use of indigenous albariño yeasts that occur naturally on the skin of our grapes. However, the problem is that this natural yeast is generally not strong enough to sustain a complete fermentation. It may well start naturally, but the likelihood is that it would not finish, as this delicate yeast would mostly likely die off before our wine is fully fermented. For this reason we chose to seed with cultured yeasts, as is would simply be to risky to rely solely on these indigenous yeasts.

The seeding process itself (when done correctly) takes a lot of time, and involves a lot of human input. The yeast is first re-hydrated in warm water, at body temperature, which then has to be reduced very slowly, over time, by adding small amounts of grape must from the tanks. The idea is that the re-hydrated yeast (starting at about 38°C) will eventually be cooled to within a couple of degrees of the temperature of the tank. Depending on the wine cellar, and the technique used, the tank temperature could be anything from about 14°C – 18°. If this long, careful procedure is not followed, and the yeast added straight into the chilled must too quickly, then the shock of this sudden temperature change will simply kill the yeast, and the juice will not ferment. It can take around 3 hours to seed a single tank, and so we never usually seed more than 2 or 3 tanks a day.

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