Weeks 2 and 3 of Man Falls in the Vines began super busy at the winery, but finished with the quietness of fermenting tanks. I have already talked of the craziness of Week 1 for #MFITV, when we brought in a good 150 tons of super premium Stags Leap District Bordeaux varieties. The last two weeks saw all of the rest of that fruit come in, all of it Cabernet Sauvignon, the heart blood of the Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) wines. Our days were definitely long, particularly the last two, where we had two more days of bringing in at least 70 tons of fruit. The last of the lots of Cabernet were completed on 10/27/11 with a healthy roar of relief by the vineyard and cellar crews, and capped off by a raucous bin dive by Jeff in the last ton of fruit. I was in the north barrel room doing my morning ferm monitoring, so I’m still bitter that I missed his swan dive. My bitterness was sweetened however, when Jeff discovered that grapes can really go everywhere and anywhere, when hit at high speed!
My activities at the winery continue to expand, with new educational experiences seemingly every hour on some days. I got my turn cleaning out the press, fortunately on a warm afternoon in the valley. I’ve heard horror stories about this task, but if the weather is warm, it’s not too bad to crawl into that huge cylinder and shoot some water for 40 minutes to get it clean. Cold weather? Well, that would be a different story. We are continuing to press out lots of new, primary fermented wine however, so I’m sure that I will have a chance to freeze my ass off, soaking wet with water, wine and pomace. 🙂
A Brazilian TV show made another day at the Rock get filled with a little more chaos and interest. Planeta Brasil is a very popular Brazilian program that documents ex-pats that work abroad, outside of Brazil. Elizabeth is Brazilian and with the romance that comes with wine, it was a no brainer to feature her in one of their upcoming episodes. They spent a few days at the winery, filming much of her activities in the cellar and out in the vineyards. It was cute to see someone as modest and self-effacing as Elizabeth still try to please the producers and hosts with all of their interview and shot requests.
Despite the plethora of fantastic learning experiences here at the Rock, I only briefly mentioned one of my favorite winemaking tasks in my first #MFITV post. The primary fermentation that is needed to make wine is done by yeast, of course. It is one of the most important activities that need to be done correctly in order for a lot of grape must to be converted into wine. And it is not as easy as one might think to inoculate 18.27 tons (original grape tonnage) of must with the proper yeast. First of all, the must might come into the winery off of the crushpad in the morning at a cool 48F. Unfortunately, the nutrients that the yeast need to begin fermentation are only activated at 110F, while the yeast can only be combined with the nutrients and enzymes at between 100F – 104F. All of this requires water that needs to be at that 110F +/- 1 degree, using a dual hose water system in a winery that is constantly in flux. Whew. So you finally get the water to 110, pour in 22 gallons, add in the nutrients and wait 10min, following stirring. Then you check the temp, add some must from the tank to cool it down a bit, to that proper yeast range and add the yeast. Wait 15m. Now you need to get that nutrient/yeast/must combo to within about 13F from the temperature of the must sitting in the tank…at 48F. :-0 Basically, you step down about 13F by adding must to cool the yeast combo, leaving 10m incubation time before each cooling. Step down too much, well, the yeast die, you lose that must and you have to start all over. Ouch! Once you get the hang of it after a couple tries it can be soothing, but prior to that: STRESS. If I screw up a yeast inoculation, I could seriously compromise a whole entire lot of wine. Yet, I have found that there’s nothing like seeing the bubbling of happy yeast as they get down to temp, ready to turn must into wine. Indeed, I have put together a video that you can view below, chronicling the adventure of grapes hitting the crushpad, all the way through that happy inoculation.
It’s been very nice to see a ton of wine friends and associates while in the valley, and to have the chance to hit up many of the super-rad wine events that are hitting the calendar. One of these was particularly special and unique, the VinTank VIP Concert featuring The Parlotones at the Napa Valley Opera House. Co-sponsored with VinTank (Twitter, Facebook) partner WineTasting.com (Twitter, Facebook), this was a fantastic intersection between a highly talented group of musicians, the US launch of one of the bands’ new wine label and a beautiful mix of great people and a regal venue. While I missed the opening band, Johnny Hi-Fi (Twitter, Facebook), I was able to get from the Rock in time to catch the headliner, The Parlotones (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog). Incredibly popular in their native South Africa, selling out stadium tours, the band has yet to really hit the US shores. They are extremely tight musicians, creating very earnest, clean, and emotional rock in the vein of Keane or Coldplay. I hadn’t know about them prior to the show announcement, so following an earful of research on Spotify, I was pleased to be able to catch the show and a great show it was. The band is also a group of wine lovers and true to their creative spirit they decided to create a wine label to complement their music, a synergy to which I can attest. For The Parlotones Wine, they took finished wine from all over South Africa and spent a wonderfully harrowing 14 days tasting through them to create their first two blends: the white named after their hit track “Push Me to the Floor” and the red entitled “Giant Mistake,” another fine choon from their latest studio release, Stardust Galaxies. While I only had time for a brief taste of the the white, I received a sample bottle of the 2009 The Parlotones Coastal Region Giant Mistake Red Blend. The wine is an interesting mix of of a number of red varietals, including South Africa’s fl
agship, Pinotage. With toasty and slightly sweeter black fruit in the nose and the palate, this wine shows lighter tannins in the mouth and a black cherry and toasty finish. It’s a solid drinker for the roughly ~$12 that you’ll find it here in the US. It fit right in at my sister’s BBQ that attended one stormy night, a few days after the show and added another bit of fun to my Man Falls in the Vines – #MFITV 2011 harvest experience.
Follow all of my adventures during this crazy sabbradical, by keeping up to date here at Vinopanion and following the #MFITV hashtag on Twitter, as well as all of the content that I’m pushing to Facebook. The project also has it’s own photo albums on Facebook and Flickr. Lastly, all of the videos are being posted at my YouTube channel. Week 1 was detailed in my intro post. Don’t be shy, I’ll add you to any profiles!
Wines by The Parlotones (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog):
[winelist query=”The%20Parlotones&order=year+desc” num=”20″]
November 11, 2011
Warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd! (Horns to the sky!) It doesn’t surprise me that primary fermentation is one of your favorite jobs. 🙂 Great update!
November 11, 2011
Thanks for checking out the article, friend! Yes, I guess it isn’t too surprising that a biologist/geneticist might be into that sorta thing, eh? Cheers! 🙂
December 3, 2011
A well written page, very informative one.