Every morning I wake up and tend to my microbial and plant life. My sourdough starters get a feeding of flour and my plant life gets water. This was a particularly exciting morning however because I planted seeds last week for this years vegetable garden and the kale has sprouted! It looks like little green martins peeking up out of the soil for now but in another week I know that it will be scrumptious baby kale.
Outside my vegetable garden is also starting to show signs of life. My rhubarb is poking it’s bulbous head out of the soil, my french tarragon is breaking its first buds and my lemon balm, sage, thyme, lavender, chives and oregano are all following suit. We are still about a month or so away from being safe from frost damage however so until then I will have to wait in anticipation to plant the rest of my gargen.
Lucky for me vineyard work has started so I can easily distract myself in the vines. The first job we have to accomplish is pruning away all the dead vines stocks that are above ground. Once that is finished we will unhill the vines we buried in the fall and tie up the stocks. We need a few spots in the vineyard to dry out a little more before we can send the tractor down to unhill. But with a few more days of nice sun like we had this past weekend we will be in great shape.
In the winery there is also work to be done. When I stopped by yesterday I was just in time to help Tim with the end of four rackings he had been doing that morning. We are bottling in a week in a half so it is crunch time with the white wine to make sure it is bottle ready. In other words we must make sure it is dry, shelf stable and clear.
The wine must be dry so that there is no chance for microbial activity after bottling. If there is any residual sugar the wine is at risk to undergo another fermentation which would make it fizzy or bacteria could become active and create a haze in the bottle.
We also want the wine to be cold stabilized. You might ask what I mean by this. Have you ever drank a wine and noticed at the end of the bottle there were little crystals? That’s tartrate. What happens is that tartaric acid (one of the acids present in wine) precipitates out of solution and forms a solid crystal. Wineries can induce this crystallization before bottling by lowering the temperature of the wine. Once the excess tartrate has precipitated out of the wine it settles to the bottom and the wine can be racked.
Lastly the wine can be clarified using a fining agent to get rid of any haze and provide a clear polished looking product. Fining involves the use of an enzyme or ionic substance to bind with particles suspended in wine causing them to precipitate out of solution. This can be done using a variety of substances. We used egg whites on our Pinot noir which uses an adsorbent enzymatic bond to clarify the wine. As well yesterday we added bentonite to our Vidal as a final clarifying measure. Bentonite is a very fine clay that works by forming an ionic bond with proteins and bacteria to remove them from the wine.
It’s a lot of work but the beauty of a clean crisp clear glass of wine makes it worth every step. Salute!