I remember thinking in my high school chem class that a person had to have that special bond with science in order to understand what was going on. In short, I thought they had to have “chemistry” with chemistry. What I’ve been slowly learning at the winery is the impact that everything can have on how that bin of juice becomes a healthy and ageable wine. It’s all connected like a story. It’s easier now for me to see how chemistry and the concept of “terroir” are similar, only one has more tangible, anticipated results while the other’s results have been described as being based on variables that may or may not be there year after year. One is more definable than the other. Here are some chemistry highlights that I’ve found fascinating so far during my internship.
When a bin of fruit has gone dry (ie; it has reached the negative range on the hydrometer during a Brix reading), it is essentially ready to be pressed. But to ready a bin for pressing, you must first ready a barrel or two.
On a physical level, when I first started this harvest internship, I knew it was going to be mind over matter. Now that we are about halfway through, I have to admit that I cannot tell in what ways my body is getting stronger exactly because there’s so much labor each day, that it seems a new muscle is getting worked and is then sore the next morning! Don’t get me wrong, I love all of this. I know that sounds weird, but this post is not about any complaints – it’s just a check-in with my body. Harvest is obviously temporary, so my body won’t always get the workout it is getting right now, but it’s so interesting to experience what a body can do – what its stamina is and how, really when it comes right down to it, it’s all about your attitude and pace.
While I knew that punchdowns were performed to keep the cap moist before and during fermentation, here are some other things I learned and experienced doing these on a daily basis.
Ed chooses to inoculate his wine with cultured yeast. When I asked him what the differences were he said that it took him many years to realize that there was no difference (he used to work with fruit’s ambient yeast in the past), as they, in his opinion, essentially produce the same results in the end.
I have fallen in love with so many unique scents and sounds at Ed’s winery. Here are some of my favorites so far.
On learning about Brix: Like every part of winemaking, there are various points at which you must check the Brix (sugar level your grapes are at) in order to make choices about the wine to keep it on a healthy path. I never knew that on the day fruit is crushed or destemmed, its Brix levels do not read accurately due to the new temperature state the fruit is in. It may read too high or too low.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been in the sales part of the wine industry for over 4 years now and so today, it was fascinating to see Ed checking in with his custom crush clients to get the particulars of what they wanted done with regard to their fruit.