The Changing of the Seasons

Autumn is so sweet up here in the mountains. The smell of smoke is beginning to waft through the air from the woodstoves of people heating their homes, and the wind is beginning to stir even the tippy-tops of the redwoods. Meanwhile harvest is coming to an end and we are entering the season of waiting. I'm under the impression that many people do not understand how wine is made. The most simple answer is that it makes itself. We put cloudy, semi-effervescent must into barrels in the fall, and when we check on the barrels in the early spring, there's wine in there! Of course there is maintenance to be done in between, but the not-so-secret secret to winemaking really is time itself. 

 

 Filling barrels

Filling barrels

I moved the Chenin from tank to barrels around six weeks ago. It had only just barely started to ferment while in tank, but once the wine was moved to barrel the fermentation took off. Now the primary (sugar to alcohol) fermentation is complete, and the wine will be left to do its thing until the late winter. Before saying goodbye to the wine for a while though, I topped up all the barrels so that there was no space for oxygen. At the beginning of the winemaking process when we press the wine, we always set a bit of it aside in kegs for this very purpose. It is imperative that the barrel not have headspace (depending on the intended style of wine) so we must "top" up the part of the wine that has evaporated through the barrel.

 

 Topping up barrels with the "topping wand"

Topping up barrels with the "topping wand"

Now all eight barrels are full and ready to mature into the wine they are destined to become (I feel like a mother). And as promised, soon some of you lucky donors will see your names written on the barrels before they make their way to their winter resting place.

All the best,
Megan