Harvest is in and wine making is largely underway for our second vintage!
Over the last couple of day’s I’ve been doing a number of bench tests to the freshly pressed juice to have some good empirical information to know about this years harvest.  Acidity levels, sugar levels, and some other things are all very useful to note.  Secondly, I make some more subjective observations, in terms of color, taste, aroma, etc. (much the same way a wine tasting is conducted).
After all that is done, the knitty-gritty winemaking can begin.  The first bonafide winemaking task and something that is a hallmark of our technique is a perfect yeast culture.  When yeast arrives, its in a dry, inactivated form.  We use about a dozen or so different yeast strains on our wines and each has its own quirks, needs, and ultimately: positive influence on the wine.  It can only do that if you bring it back to life the right way.
After the yeast has been properly re-hydrated and it can be added to the pressed-juice.   Over the next few days, the yeast in the initial culture will reproduce (everyone has a good time at the winery—even eukaryotic unicellular fungi) and the fermentation begins…
A bit about yeast.   Yeast is sort of an umbrella colloquialism referring to any number of strains of Saccharomyces Cervisiae.   “Saccharomyces” comes from the Latin/Greek roots meaning “sugar” (Saccaro) and “mold”  (Myces).  Cervisiae is Latin in origin, and means “of beer.”
While there are a number of strains, not all are suitable for wine, and most are only suitable for certain varietals.  That being said, their are a number of other than Saccharomyces Cervisiae that can have positive or (mostly) negative impacts on wine.
Slowly but surely over the next couple of weeks the yeast will consume the sugar in the juice and produce a couple of byproducts.  Heat (which we have to carefully monitor to ensure the juice is fermenting at the proper temperature), Carbon Dioxide gas (which I have to carefully monitor otherwise I’ll suffocate) and alcohol, which is ultimately what we’re trying to get.
Stay tuned for more information to get a sneak peek at how the vintage is shaping up in the cellar.
~Paul