Folie a Deux Crush Fantasy


Rack and Returns by Crush Crusader
September 15, 2008, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

So I’ve progressed to the next level of harvest duties, and I guess it’s about time to talk about racking wine.  For whites, the wine in the tank has already been pressed and separated from the skins.  There is an elbow that is connected to a valve about a foot from the tank’s bottom, just above the lees.  We want only juice now from this tank, nothing else. It’s easy with whites to simply transfer the wine to another tank. Reds are a little more tough a task.

In a red wine tank we’ve still got everything that came from the crusher & destemmer, since we want the wine to have extended contact with the skins/seeds (or “maceration” for the savvy reader).  So when we rack and return the red wines, we run the product through a screen to catch unwanted seeds and ‘non-raisins.’

Running Zin through a screen then pumped to another tank temporarily.

Running Zin through a screen then pumped to another tank temporarily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, the desirable juice and raisins are sent into a nearby empty tank temporarily, then sent back over the top once finished.  This is where the CO2 is strong (read my previous post) because it is technically wine now and not quite done fermenting.

About to return the wine

About to return the wine

This whole rack and return process can be very quick or painfully slow.

Tune in tomorrow for the next step, basket press.  I’m out!



CO2 – Even Wine Gets Gassy by Crush Crusader
September 12, 2008, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

CO2 gas, a by-product of the fermentation process, can be very nasty stuff, let me tell you.  When it comes to dealing with fermenting wine, you must have caution being anywhere near the tank.  Of course I’ve learned this the hard way, by experience…

I took my first “hit” of CO2 the other day, and oooo man, I felt it. Basically during fermentation you get an absurd amount of CO2 that gets produced and trapped underneath the “cap” of grape skins that are pushed to the top of the tank. Just a big air bubble below the surface, waiting to burst and escape. And guess what happens when you’re the lucky harvest intern that has to do pump-overs on said tanks and disturb the stability of the cap? That’s right, you’d better be ready to dodge a quick burst of CO2 coming at you as you hover over the tank. Betcha had no idea!

The cap of some zinfandel

The cap of some zinfandel

The crazy part is, people can die from over exposure  to this gas.  The warning sign is the smell.  You know it when you’re near it. It smells thick and stinky. It made me tear up and want to throw up within less than a second. Yea, its that bad.

Okay, goodnight y’all. Time to carbo-load for tomorrow.



Promoted to Barrel Samples! by Crush Crusader
September 10, 2008, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Forgive me now, because I’m writing this all with my eyes half way shut and it is a struggle right now. The early mornings and long days of harvest are starting to take their toll.

Barrel Room, only some of it!

Barrel Room, only some of it!

To start off this post, let’s talk barrel samples.  Today, I was sent to collect selected Cabernet Sauvignon barrel samples from the 07 harvest for Joe Shirley (Folie winemaker) to taste.  These samples came from multiple vineyards throught Napa Valley, all aging separately until the final blend is made.  So, to get the wine into the little 12oz bottle, I used a small hose to siphon. 

Siphoning wine into the sample bottle

Siphoning wine into the sample bottle

Siphoning wine into the sample bottle

Me

 It was fun to actually try some of these 07 cabs, and see what the next Folie a Deux production release is going to be all about.  Be excited, be very excited.

That’s it, I have to give up, bed time at 6:45pm.  Write cha all later. Goodnight! Finally!



Pump-overs 101 by Crush Crusader
September 8, 2008, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Ok, so this may bore you, but since you are here already, you might as well read through it. I might surprise you with something you don’t know. I’ll call it, “everything you wanted to know about the pump-over process, but were afraid to ask.” By the end of this lesson, YOU TOO could be well on your way to becoming a harvest intern!

Anyways, first off we make sure the pump is set and the lines are connected & ready.  Then I climp up to the catwalks above the tanks and stage the device (see pictures in prior post), if the tank needs one, inside the top of the tank.  Next, someone down below sends me the wine.  They yell, ‘Ready?’ I return with ‘Send tank #’.  The person screams back ‘Pump-over on tank # on pump-over line #’  We communicate the tank # and pump-over line to check and make sure the lines are all connected correctly and we are not sending the juice elsewhere.  With my hand on the valve, I wait till I feel pressure, then I yell back ‘Pressure!’

Checking for pressure

Checking for pressure

Now, usually water comes through first and that is spilled outside of the tank until I get grape juice.  At that point, pump-over now officially begins.

Water first, grapes next

Water first, grapes next

Breaking the cap By Hand

Breaking the cap By Hand

 So now you are educated… it wasnt that bad was it?? I hope you were taking notes, as this material WILL be showing up on the final exam!



Pump Overs and Falling Asleep by Crush Crusader
September 8, 2008, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures
By hand pump-over

By hand pump-over

The last two days have been filled with Pump-Overs (pumping juice from the bottom to the top of the tank to mix the juice and give red grapes color) and falling asleep. I say that because there are two ways of doing this. One is by device and the other by hand. By hand can be exhausting due to the fact that you are hurrying up just to wait 30 to 45 to 60 minutes until pump over is done. The device is really nice because it frees up an extra body to do other things.

Device in action

Device in action

Device Arm

Device Arm

We would pump-over a tank three times a day. And when you’ve got 6-7 tanks going, it still takes a long time to complete. The first day it took 11hrs, even with 4-5 devices running. Sorta shatters the idea of an 8hr workday…



Long Day by Crush Crusader
September 5, 2008, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Too tired today to write anything more than two sentences. Long day to say the least, goodnight.



Heat, Hydration & Hydrometers by Crush Crusader
September 4, 2008, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , ,

DAY 5:  Today was very hot, about 100 degrees to be exact. And it felt like a sauna, believe me. We had to make sure we were all very well hydrated especially since we were in the middle of crushing sauvignon blanc and zinfandel and running around everywhere. Yup, I believe we received something like 50-60 tons of sauvignon blanc and 40-50 tons of zinfandel. That’s over 100 tons of grapes to crush, in over 100 degree heat… and the weather forecast is calling for more extreme highs! Ah yes, all just a day in the life of a harvest intern.

In between crush sessions, I also started learning how to take wine samples and record the brix (sugar measurment) and temp levels. The winemaking team likes to be able to watch how the sugar levels are moving along during fermentation. First, wine samples are taken from the tank or barrel and put into a tall cylinder. The wine at this point is still fermenting, so there can be some foam present, making it difficult to get an accurate reading. Second, I dropped the hydrometer in the cylinder and waited till it leveled out. Finally, I recorded the temp and added the appropriate amount to the brix level according to the temp. It’s all part of the process, and I’m learning something new every day.

Longer day today. Day 5, done at 5:30 pm. 12hr day… time for rest.




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