Last Saturday, we processed the Marquette. That involves weighing-in the grapes and then dumping them in the elevator hopper. The elevator carries the fruit up above the destemmer-crusher where any stems are removed and the grapes are crushed. The grapes are then pumped into a tank in which the juice started fermenting on Sunday. During fermentation, we will use our Pulse Air system to break up the cap in the tank. This is more practical than punching down in a large closed-top tank.
The Foch is fermenting in Macrobins and we will punch the cap down two to three times per day. The cap consists of grape skins that have floated to the top because they are less dense than the juice. In a Macrobin, the cap can be four to five inches thick. We want it to be in contact with the juice so that we can extract the flavors from the skins. We punch down the cap regularly to break it up and submerge it in the juice. The Foch is fermenting. We will regularly check the sugar level and will add yeast nutrients at appropriate times.
We started the fermentation of the St. Pepin on Saturday. Whereas red wine fermentations usually take about one week, a white wine fermentation will take nearly two weeks. The reason is that we keep the temperatures of white wines at about 65°F while fermenting whereas red wines will be fermented much warmer at 75°F and more. With white wines we want to preserve the fruit character.
There are lots of batches of wine going through fermentation right now. Some of the red grapes are used to make different wines and they require different processes so the number of batches is greater than the number of grape varieties being processed.