Fall is an exciting time at the Winery. With last year’s wine bottled and the harvest rolling in, its onto the new vintages! Concord grapes are one of the first varieties to be harvested. We usually begin picking them in early September. Our concords have already been pressed and gone through the primary fermentation.
The primary fermentation is the initial conversion of sugars in the grape juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide using yeast. The wine is then syphoned or “racked” into the secondary container. This racking is important. Sediment falls out of the fermenting juice, which is primarily composed of spent yeast and grape pulp. We don’t want the wine to rest too long on the sediment as this can impart off flavors into the final wine. Wine typically spends 1 week in the primary fermentation.
The concord wine will rest in the secondary tank, with occasional rackings, until it is ready to be bottled. In the meantime, we will continue to harvest, crush, and process our other varieties.
William Tell, with the release of a single, well-aimed arrow split the apple off the top of his son’s head, saved his own life and his son’s, becoming more than a skilled man, but now a mythic hero. Our wine embodies these epic qualities of the apple: sweet, tart, crisp, luscious, dare we say, legendary. Though this apple may not make you a myth, it will embolden you to become a hero.
This month we began fermenting spiced pumpkin wine. This wine is used as the base in our pumpkin wine slushy, which is reminiscent of pumpkin cheesecake, creamy and full of fall flavors. We made our experimental batch with 90lbs of long neck pumpkins and added raisins, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and fresh ginger root.
The spice blend is a little different than previous years but it smells glorious and we expect to produce a small batch of wine (25 gallons) next fall. In the mean time, stop by and check out last years pumpkin wine test batch. It will be out in the slushy machine next month!
It’s time to protect the vineyard from birds as summer winds down and the grapes begin to ripen. A flock of birds landing in an unprotected vineyard at the wrong time can be devastating, with tons of grapes being eaten. We prevent this by encasing each row of grapes in a large net. The rolls of netting are around half a mile long and it can quickly become a tangled mess.
Oddly enough, while it is possible to buy the netting on the East coast from orchard supply places, no one sells a machine or device to make applying the netting easier. You can buy such devices in California, but the shipping is steep. So this year Jeff, Zach, and Lars designed and welded the Netting Application Dispersal System, what we have been affectionately calling NADS (Netter Getter was already taken!).
The netting boom is built from two pipes, one which fits inside the other, so that the arm can swing from side to side. Lars welded the boom and attached 2 cork screw shapes to capture the netting and guide it out to the row. The entire apparatus tilts forward and backward 30 degrees, to aid in applying the netting but also picking it back up at the end of the season. Pins in the boom hold its position steady while the tractor drives up and down the row.
The netting boom exceeded everyones expectations. It rides on the back of the tractor with the large rolls of netting underneath. The netting flows gently out the arm and is easily spread over the rows. Applying the bird netting has never been easier thanks to NADS!
This month in the Winery we are fermenting mint wine. That’s right, mint wine. You may have tried it this past spring in the mint wine slushy. We have also heard that a splash of mint wine in your ice tea on a warm summer evening is spectacular. To that end, we are making enough mint wine this year to bottle.
We began by harvesting the mint and stripping the leaves from the stems. We had 105 cups of packed mint all together. The leaves were divided into 3 fermentation bags.
We then poured boiling water over the fermentation bags into the “big” pot (which is a little over 50 gallons) to make a strong tea. After the bags were done steeping, we dissolved sugar into the hot mint tea.
We allowed it to cool over night before adding the apple juice and yeast. The apple juice is there to provide nutrition for the yeast is while adding a pleasant apple wine taste. It is currently bubbling away and will ideally be bottled over winter. Look for a release around St. Patrick’s day!