Harvest Update: November 2020
Our 2020 Harvest has come to an end at Suhru. All of our grapes have been picked and are now busy fermenting into wine! While our fruit has all been picked, the work is far from done! Our white wines are completing the fermentation process while for the reds, the journey from grape juice into wine is just begining.
What's Happening in the Winery
Over the last week the focus in the winery has switched over to red wines, so we thought we'd take a quick moment to briefly review how red wine is made. Once our reds have been hand-harvested and delivered by tractor to the winery the grapes are destemmed and the grape must (aka berries, juice, skins, seeds and all) are pumped into open-top tanks where the magic of fermentation occurs.
All of the tanks at the winery are temperature controlled as temperature is key during fermentation. Yeast (the essential ingredient in turning juice into wine) like very specific conditions—too warm the yeast will over heat and die, too cold the yeast will fall dormant.
When the grape must reaches 60 degrees it is time to inoculate (aka add yeast)! Throughout fermentation the yeast cells will consume the natural occurring sugars in the grape juice, producing alcohol and releasing carbon dioxide. During the ferment as CO2 is released it rises, lifting the skins to the top of the tank forming a "cap".
We need to ensure that the juice stays in contact with the skins throughout the fermentation process as the skins are what give red wine its color. As a result, throughout fermentation we "punch-down" the grape skin cap that forms at the surface of the tank in order to reintroduce the skins to the juice. This process will be done multiple times a day at the beginning of fermentation, gradually slowing down as the rate of fermentation slows.
Once the fermentation process is complete and all of the sugars have been converted to alcohol, the the grape seeds will settle to the bottom of the tank while the grape skins float homogeneously with the wine. At this time the juice is drained off and pumped into another tank and in order to ensure we get every last drop of wine. The remaining skins are shoveled out of the tank and loaded into the press where we extract the remaining wine.
From here the wine is racked into oak barrels where it undergoes secondary fermentation or malolactic fermentation. During this second fermentation process the sharp, astringent malic acid is converted into lactic acid which gives the wine a softer, rounder mouth-feel and more pleasant drinking experience. Once this process is complete the wine is racked into clean barrels where is will stay in our temperature controlled barrel room for the coming months as it ages.
A Note from Winemaker Russell Hearn
Harvest 2020 started out nicely with the white and rosé fruit ripening in a dry pleasant weather pattern. All of our white and rosé varieties came into the winery looking very nice and are now fermenting along cleanly in tank. Our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio fruit came in looking especially nice with full fruit maturity. Our Cabernet Franc and Merlot which will be used to make our 2020 Rosé were picked during a cool spell so they both retained nice natural acidity.
However after a beautiful summer and nice September, October has given us a run for our money! The second half of October turned wet and humid with below average temperatures so we have seen some delays in the red fruit which means that some of the red varieties out here will not be picked at the high level of quality that they otherwise could have been. Therefore, we have chosen to only make Teroldego this Harvest as it is an early ripening variety and was not as impacted by the uncharacteristic weather as the other red varieties. Our Teroldego was picked on October 26th probably 7-10 days later than normal which is one of the benefitw of it being an early ripener, even in a cooler than normal year it still ripens. The Teroldego fruit looked beautiful coming into the winery and is now busy fermenting away in tank. We look forward to seeing how this wine continues to improve and evolve throughout the fermentation process!