It’s about the time of year when the yeast catalogs start appearing in our office. Yes, you read that right: yeast catalogs. Yeast is one of the main ingredients of wine and there are literally hundreds of strains from which to choose. The yeast is what turns the grape juice sugars into ethanol, so you can see why we hold it so dear.
Each September, Richard (our winemaker) pores over pages of various strains of yeast and makes plans for next year’s wine. “There’s yeast, and then there’s YEAST,” says Richard. The catalog pages are full of hope and promise. They claim results such as better “color, aroma, complexity, structure and balance.” It gets Richard pumped up for the year’s winemaking season. “It’s like Christmas for winemakers,” says Richard. “Nancy gives me free reign of the catalogs, so I’m a kid in a candy store.”
So why all this fuss over yeast and enzymes? Does it really make a difference? “Not in the long-run of the wine’s life,” says Richard. “We select yeast that keeps the quality of our wines consistent year after year, but it’s fun to experiment.”