We are excited to begin harvesting the first of our red grapes tonight! Our red grape harvest will be done in less than a month, so if you’d like to see some grapes still on the vine, join us on a vineyard tour before they are all gone. The first varietal up for picking is Sangiovese. While it will be harvested this evening, the grapes won’t be processed until tomorrow, but in a unique way: with our new Ganimede Tank.
Here’s how it works…after the grapes are delivered to the winery from the vineyards, they will be destemmed and crushed into “must”. Must is the juice, skins and seeds that come from the grapes. This “must” will fill the tank from above. After closing the tank and starting fermentation, carbon dioxide gas will form and the pressure will build against the lower cavity of juice. As part of fermentation, a “cap” of grape skins and seeds will form on top. Then, suddenly, a bypass in the tank will open which causes a large release of gas that stirs the must, breaks up the cap, and allows seeds and skins to enter the lower cavity. This flooded cavity lowers the level of the must and the denser materials then sink to the bottom where they can easily be removed from the juice. This process will happen about every three hours.
Confused? This diagram outlining the process may help:
Why do this? The “automatic” build-up of the carbon dioxide bubbles which breaks up the cap allows us to eliminate a labor-intensive step from our day-to-day routine. Normally, we would have to perform “pump-overs” or “punch-downs”, processes that stir the cap and keep the fermentation process going. What’s even more exciting about our Ganimede tank is that it produces better wine because the grape seeds are removed from the funnel at the bottom. Grape seeds tend to cause bitter tastes and harsh tannins in wine, so this system will result in a smoother, better balanced wine.
So if you enjoy our 2010 Sangiovese, we promise you’ll love the one coming from tonight’s harvest! Our winemaker, Mark, predicts this vintage will have savory flavors of dark cherry and black currant.
Don’t forget to stop by in the next few weeks to check out harvest!
Treat yourself to a harvest weekend by staying at Ponte Vineyard Inn. Check out our seasonal packages here.