With a group of wine enthusiasts, we decided to make our own wine with the help and support of Crushpad, a San Francisco based winery providing the complete materials, facility and services for new (or experienced) winemakers to create their own wines.
Our winemaker Scott Shapley.
First, we needed to define which wine we wanted to make and choose a varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon was not available anymore so we chose Syrah. The type of wine you want usually determines the vineyard selection. We wanted a Syrah in the Northern Rhône Valley style, spicy and complex but not too big and fruit-forward. With that goal in mind, Crushpad selected fruits from the Clary Ranch Vineyard, a cool area in the Sonoma Coast appellation, just a few miles west of Petaluma, California.
We decided to remove the stems before starting fermentation but keep the whole berries to give the wine a fruitier character.
Luckily, we did not need to add any cultured yeast to the must as it startedits fermentationn process with its own native yeast. We came during the fermentation time to punch down the "cap" which is the solid mass of grape skins, stems, and seeds that floats to the top of the fermenting vessel.
Punching down is important because it helps mix the yeast into the must, ensures that color, flavor and tannins and other phenolic compounds are added to the wine, helps dissipate heat that naturally occurs during fermentation and keeps harmful bacteria from forming.
It is usually done two times a day.
Brix is a measurement of the amount of sugar in a liquid. The sugar converts to alcohol during fermentation. As Brix numbers decrease, the amount of alcohol in the liquid increases
Then, we measured the amount of sugar remaining in the wine. This is measured in Brix with a refractometer. As the sugar converts into alcohol during fermentation, the Brix number decreases. Our goal was to reach a desired Brix number of -1 or -2 for an optimum dryness.
Measuring the Brix.
We tasted the wine of course. The juice had a deep purple/garnet color and was deliciously simple but good. There was still some sweetness in this baby wine and also some lively acidity.
We are now waiting for the fermentation to complete and plan to come next week for the pressing.
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