Last Friday evening our vineyard crew crushed our 4-ton harvest of Cabernet Franc grapes. Instead of crushing them with our bare feet (as in one of our favorite episodes of the I Love Lucy show) we use a “destemmer/crusher” machine to gently squeeze the grapes and break the skins. It also separates the grapes from the stems.
The destemmed, crushed grapes are set aside for about two to three days (this is called “pre-fermentation maceration”). Then we’ll add yeast to kick off fermentation. It will take the grapes five to six days to ferment. After that, we’ll let them sit for another two weeks, what’s called “extended maceration.” Most red wines get their color from grape skins so it’s important that the grape juice and skins rest together for a while to get the color of the wine just right.
Stay tuned for another 2011 harvest update soon!