So far, we have kept you up to date on activities in the vineyards during grape harvest season. But what happens after that?
Activity now moves to the “Grape Reception” area, above of the cellar.
The grapes are brought here by tractor to be washed, selected and de-stalked.
After this, the grapes are pumped straight into stainless steel tanks.
This transition, into the cellar from the farm outside, is also symbolic of the incipit of the transformation of grapes into wine.
In fact, it is in these stainless-steel tanks, in only 12-15 days, that natural alcoholic fermentation occurs as the sugars are converted into alcohol.
The grapes are dropped into the tank through the cellar roof and once the tank is full, our cellarmen have the task of monitoring the fermentation process and doing 4 pump overs a day.
Pumping over ensures even fermentation by the constant circulation of the pomace and must, never leaving any one part of it exposed to oxygen for very long. The part at the bottom of the tank is pumped to the top and vice versa.
Punching down, or breaking up the cap of the pomace, is alternated with pumping over and is done twice a day: in this way, the skins are broken, releasing more tannins and anthocyanins, ensuring a ruby red wine.
These two procedures, pumping over and punching down, are done manually by our cellarmen with 12 of the vats. Another 15 vats are mechanised and a computerized pumping over system is managed by the cellarmen.
Drawing off is done once alcoholic fermentation is complete: the pomace (skins and other solid residue) is removed from the grapes.
This pomace is then passed through the winepress and all the wine and residual liquid is removed. The result is a very dry pomace, a portion of which is used to make grappa and the rest becoming a scrumptious and healthy snack for our pigs.
After the first fermentation, the wine will remain in the stainless-steel tanks for malolactic fermentation.
We are still a long way from opening a bottle of our 2017 wine, but the journey has begun.
Arrivederci from the Vignamaggio (harvest) cellar.