It’s springtime in the vineyard, with the first signs of grapes appearing.
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Pressing and tanking the grapes after the first fermentation.
Using a sieve and filter to pump wine from fermentation tank full of tempranillo grapes.
Pumping the ‘free run’ grape juice from the fermentation tank to the steel tank.
The steel fermentation tank.
Using a colander to remove the grapes from the fermentation tank.
Grapes added to the wine press.
The wine press with wooden block in place, pressing the wine by hand.
The pressed wine juice sieved into a bucket to be transferred to the stainless steel fermentation tank.
The ‘cake’ leftover after pressing the juice from the grapes.
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On the 1st of September 2018 we had our Grape Harvest (Vendimia) at Finca del Rio – La Vina de la Iglesia.
After the grapes are picked, usually starting at 6am, they are brought to tables to be sorted. We remove green grapes, split grapes and any grapes that show signs of powdery mildew. Although we do cut any mildewed grapes off before the harvest, as much as possilbe and discard away from the vineyard. All the work is done by hand, except the de-stemming.
After sorting of the grapes. They are put into a de-stemmer machine. This removes the grapes and juice from their stalks using an archimedes screw at the top of the machine which leads the grapes onto grooved flexible rollers and then into a revolving drum with cut-out holes and paddles inside the machine.
The stalks are collected from the machine, then later are put back onto the vineyard as compost.
The grape juice is transferred from the de-stemmer machine using plastic buckets into a large tank. Fermentation takes place almost immediately. No sugar is added and the vineyards own natural yeast is left to combine with the sugars in the grapes. The tank is covered with a muslin cloth to stop fruit flies from spoiling the fermenting grape juice, but still allows a good flow of air across the top of the must.
The fermentation ‘cap’ is pushed down, also called ‘punching down’, so that the skins of the grapes add colour and flavour during maceration (skin contact) and do not dry out.
The syrah tank during punch down and maceration.
The tempranillo tank during punch down and maceration.
To control the temperature of the fermentation, bottles of ice are used to cool the grape juice. These are replaced at intervals.
After the harvest the de-stemmer machine is thoroughly cleaned for use next year. The revolving cylinder with punched out holes can be clearly seen. These holes effectively cause the de-stemming by tearing the stems from the grapes as they revolve around.
So now we wait for the fermentation to stop before the next stage which is to seperate the juice from the skins and seeds and to place the juice, now wine, into stainless steel tanks.
Each year the harvest follows the same pattern so here are a few pictures showing the 2013 harvest which was a bumper year.
We had 32 people helping and harvested approx 2,200 kilos/litres.
The grapes started fermentation almost immediately.
During December and January we rebuilt over the old animal barn using the same footprint and keeping the very old stone walls for part of the building. Our decision to build the bodega is outlined in this post.
The joints between the stones and rocks of the old walls do not have cement but lime mortar, so we will get good humidity. We have been running out of space for storage of bottles mainly, but also having the wine in barrels and tanks on the terrace has been taking up space.
We also found that the wine we have made is at first tasting uncomplicated and fruity with a light body. It has improved considerably in the bottle, due to the wines natural acidity and fairly high alcohol. So it seems that we have to wait four years at least to get to the stage where it begins to take on more complexity. We do not filter the wine when bottling and only add small amounts of potassium metabisulphite at fermentation and when storing in barrel and tank. The wine is a field blend, so the proportions are not exact but as we have 700 tempranillo and 400 syrah, a bottle is about 70% tempranillo and 30% syrah.
So it is a very natural wine, it is unsettled when transferred from barrel, or tank, to bottle so needs time to settle and seems better when tasted from barrel than when tasted from bottle shortly afterwards. So the movement between barrel and bottle causes ‘distress’ to the wine which reflects in its taste.
We are bottling around 1,500 bottles this year, so although we are going to harvest later this year and maybe have less grape juice, we will still need a storage capacity for 8,000 bottles or so, to allow time for the wine to mature in bottle.
Just need to build brick recesses to store the bottles and it will be complete, except for the 8,000 bottles we intend to put in it!