Folie a Deux Crush Fantasy


Slow and Sparkling Start to the Harvest by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
September 23, 2009, 12:19 am
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

The harvest season at Folie à Deux is off to a late start. We’ve had white grapes come in, but it’s been slow.  The upside is that we couldn’t be more prepared. The winery is so clean that it sparkles! Every tank has been washed and they are now ready and waiting to be filled with juice. Guess who got to clean all those tanks? The interns, of course.

So, where are all the grapes? Come on California! Give us the heat we need to bring up the sugar levels! The grapes can’t be picked until the sugar level is just right. It’s going to be in 100s this week so hopefully that will give us the heat we need to give us nice sweet grapes.

As our grapes continue to ripen on the vine, our barrel rooms and tanks are seeing all the action. Right now, we have some of our 2009 whites in the tanks and some of the 2008 wines are starting to make their journey to the barrels. Also, wines that are currently in the barrels are getting ready for bottling. It’s like musical chairs for all the different wines as they start to move around the winery. I’m getting the feeling it’s all about timing and making sure no grapes are left without a chair when the music stops!

For people who are new to winemaking, I thought I’d give a very quick overview of the first steps of the winemaking process…and I mean very quick, because the entire winemaking process takes several months to a couple of years to complete.

When the grapes (which I’ve learned are called berries) first arrive at the winery they are put into big silver bins called hoppers.

Sneaking Berries out of the Hopper

Sneaking Berries Out of the Hopper

The berries are then pushed by an auger—which looks like a giant corkscrew—into the de-stemmer. The de-stemmer separates the berries from the stems before they go into the crusher. The crusher gently presses the berries and then the skins and juice are pumped into a tank. As you can see, the equipment has self-explanatory names: the de-stemmer, the crusher, etc. It sure makes it easier for the interns to remember which equipment does each function.

The juice is later pressed and all of the skins are removed before fermentation. (White wines generally go straight to press or shortly thereafter destemming.) The wines begin fermentation in stainless steel tanks and then some of the wine varieties will be moved to barrels. This is where Joe Shirley, our winemaker, works his magic as small changes are made to make each wine unique.

Since we’re still in the beginning stages of the winemaking process, I’ll stop here. More details soon.

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