Watch Brian take Ginger and Wasabi, our winery dogs, out into the vineyard to show them when it's time to pick via our dog-cam ... and what happens once the grapes come off the vine.
A Tale of Two Clusters
Once upon a time, there were two clusters of grapes across the row. They watched one another as each grew plump and full, morphing from straw-green to a deep, garnet purple.
When the chill of autumn set in, the winemaker would visit each day, plucking a grape from each and rolling it around between his fingers and on his tongue. One day, the winemaker nodded, and within hours the vines were shaking with activity. Men with short knives shaped like scythes swept through the rows of yellow grapes releasing the clusters from their captivity to the vine.
One cluster fell the first day, another almost a month later. But both met different fates.
The first, called Nebbiolo, was carted to the winery and tumbled directly into the bladder press, stem and all. As the giant cylinder began to rotate, a rose-colored juice spilled into the bin below and pumped to a tank to ferment. The juice will stay pale and bright because it burst past the skins and seeds so quickly.
The second cluster, named Cabernet Sauvignon, hangs on its vine for nearly a month longer. When it gets the nod and release, it too is carried to the winery. But from its bin it climbs a conveyor belt and plummets into a machine that removes each grape from the stem. As the grapes come out of the machine, they’re picked over for any missed leaves or jacks and pumped, whole, into a fermentation tank. There they will stay, juice absorbing color and tannins from the skins and seeds until the winemaker nods again.
First, he’ll drain from the tank what juice has liberated itself—60-70% of the available juice in the grapes—and set it apart in another tank. Then he’ll pump the rest of the grapes into the great bladder press that Cabernet’s cousin Nebbiolo fell into that first day, to capture the secondary juice.
In its tank, the Nebbiolo is buoyant, refreshing and light. Across the aisle the Cabernet becomes noble, complex and deep. Both clusters become the juice, and eventually the wine, they were always destined to be.