We Have Wine!!
That's right, after all of the writing, talking, dreaming, and tasting, we finally have actual wine in the barrel. Video evidence is below. On Sunday we flew to San Francisco and pressed our wine from Doctor's Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Along with some dedicated Brigade members, we filled the barrel with the free run juice and then topped it off with progressively harder pressings.
The free run is the juice that collects at the bottom of the bin during fermentation. It is generally the softest and "purest" part of the wine, and the goal is to maximize the free run by siphoning it directly into the barrel. Next, the remaining solids from the fermentation bin go into the press and are drained of their sweet nectar. As the press intensifies in pressure, more tannins are produced resulting in greater structure. Our end recipe was about 50% free run, the rest comprised of decreasing percentages of the six pressings (the last pressing - the most intense - probably made up less than 5% of the blend).
So, how did it taste? The free run had roughly the viscosity of freshly-squeezed orange juice and looked like red muck, but it tasted smooth and fruity. As we got into the later pressings, the color shifted to a deep clear red, and we could definitely taste the tannins kicking in.
We made a little blend cup that approximated the blend in the barrel and it was delicious! We can't wait to see how it develops after being in oak for the next 12-15 months.
To see this all in action, you can check out the video below. If you can't see the video, please click here.
So, what's next? For the Doctor's grapes it's into the barrel for the malolactic fermentation and then a long deserved rest. For us, we're anxiously awaiting Round 2 - the arrival of our Anderson Valley grapes. We hope to see you at either the sort/crush or the pressing!