Barreled the Merlot today

Dragon helping me study - had to put him in my blog despite posting this pic on Facebook.
Dragon helping me study – had to put him in my blog despite posting this pic on Facebook.

This morning I checked my emails first thing since we were suppose to be picking Cabernet Franc grapes; good thing I did since there was a come-when-you-can message and I felt I still needed to study for my soils exam.  We also started our water management class this morning right before our soils class; two one credit sections for the next 22 school days.  The cold nights have encouraged the red and gold leaves along most of my drive, but the 65-70 degree F days with sunny skies could seduce me into believing we were still at the end of summer rather than a month into Autumn.

Merlot in the tank ready to rack into barrels, how did I walk by this?
Merlot in the tank ready to rack into barrels, how did I walk by this?
Sabrina making sure we don't over fill the barrels, thanks Sabs.
Sabrina making sure we don’t over fill the barrels, thanks Sabs.

After my exam I measured the temperatures and Brix of each of our fermentations in the cellar: barreled Syrah, poly tank Merlot and carboy of Viognier.  As I left the cellar I was waylaid by Tim, our enology instructor: the Merlot was ready to barrel.  Thinking I was headed out to the vineyard to pick Cabernet Franc grapes, I had walked right passed the tanks of Merlot now outside the cellar.  The

Moving the wand we spilled a bit of wine, but with the mildewcide it wiped right off.
Moving the wand we spilled a bit of wine, but with the mildewcide it wiped right off.

barrels were beside them and the pump and wands were already cleaned and ready to go.  (Felt rather silly having walked right by them without realizing what was needed.)  We filled two American oak puncheons (the 500L barrels).  The group that had the Malbec followed to put their wine in barrels as well.

Dumping the lees from a poly tank before cleaning.
Dumping the lees from a poly tank before cleaning.

It took several of us to tilt the poly tanks to empty them of the lees left when we racked the wine from them before we turned them over to clean them with ‘The Dog’ a pressure washer that rotates inside the

Clean up of equipment means we move the residual to the crush pad which then needs to be cleaned.
Clean up of equipment means we move the residual to the crush pad which then needs to be cleaned.

 

tank to clean it.  Then we had to clean all of the clamps, gaskets and other grape-covered pieces.  Cleaning truly is most of wine making.  The last three hours of my afternoon were spent cleaning the tank room floor, the crush pad and more equipment.  To ensure excellent wine cleaning of all surfaces and equipment is critical.

The inside of a well used barrel - love the colors and texture!  Yes, the color is that deep, it isn't in shadow.
The inside of a well used barrel – love the colors and texture! Yes, the color is that deep, it isn’t in shadow.

Removing the food source of pathogens, as well as removing any pathogens themselves should they be lurking, when ever we process grapes or wine means we begin our next processing cycle that much cleaner – even though we clean and sanitize everything before working with the fruit anyway.

I didn’t make it into the vineyard to pick at all today, but I thought I would.  There is more coming in this week, so I still have opportunities.  This will be the last week of our estate grapes coming in, not sure if there will be other grapes.

I did work at one of the small wineries I help at on Sunday morning as we had some fruit to press – I helped with clean up before heading home to study.  But the best part of my weekend was visiting with friends that came to visit us on Saturday!

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