Now that the harvesting work is complete, we’re focusing on fermenting our grape juice into wine. This past Monday our winemaker, Richard, was at work overseeing an early stage of the winemaking process called malolactic fermentation.
This process introduces flavor complexity and texture to the wine. Richard will stir every barrel each week until the start of the new year. The stirring causes the sediment to rise from the bottom of the barrel and makes the wine cloudy. It’s mainly composed of yeast and grape solids. Mixing it with the fermented juice is what gives the wine complexity and texture.
Here’s what the wine looks like before it’s been stirred, and afterward.
After stirring, Richard tastes a sample from each barrel to make sure fermentation is on track. Since each barrel is slightly different in age and origin, the wine flavor varies noticeably. Richard takes note of how the wine is evolving.
Before recapping the barrels, he tops off each one with reserved grape juice to replace the liquid that has naturally evaporated through the barrels.
Richard will repeat this process each week until January. From then on he’ll stir the barrels only once per month until June. During this time the wine will extract oak flavors from the barrel and sediment that will give it the complex, rich flavor we love in our Chardonnay.