Harvest 2023 – Day 10
September 12th, 2023 | Bodega
It looks like the bad weather is finally behind us, and so we should now simply be able to concentrate on final days of harvest and winemaking.
On the subject of winemaking, today is a very busy day down in our tank room. Racking several tanks and seeding three more, which for a bodega of our size means a lot of work. The racking process is comparatively simple, as I have explained many times in the past. The ‘seeding’ process (adding yeast to support the fermentation), is, by contrast, quite a long and drawn out procedure when done correctly.
The first phase of seeding is to rehydrate the yeast, very much as you would do in baking. Simply add water, at body temperature (about 37°C or 98°F), and leave for at least 10 minutes (left hand photo). Once the yeast is rehydrated we start to add grape must from the tank, bringing down the temperature in small increments. To goal is to reduce the yeast mixture to within about 5°C of the tank that we are seeding. For example, if the tank to be seeded is at 15°C, we need to reduce the yeast mixture to about 20°C before we can add it to the tank. The problem is that we cannot simply add the cool grape must to the yeast in one go, a huge and sudden change of temperature would simply kill the yeast. This is why we add the grape must slowly, bit by bit, stopping between additions to allow the yeast to recover. During this process, and once the first grape juice is added to the warm yeast mixture, it immediately reacts with the sugar and produces a thick foam (sometimes depending on the strain of yeast used). The two middle pictures show the foam, and the last picture is an artwork by Angela, adding the initials of our business!