After dropping all the fruit into the fermenters last Monday there was a lot of tedious checking of sugar levels daily along with multiple cap punchdowns. As the days went by the hydrometer readings sank and slowly the cap began to float less on the top of the juice signaling the time to press was near.
Had the fermentation stopped on Sunday it would have been more convenient for me but that didn’t work out so right after coming home from the office on Monday I got the press and other ancellary items ready. With Katie still working it was just me and Eisa left to the task of pressing.
The reds having broken down over the past week of fermentation were much easier to press than the whites. We did some few whole cluster pressing of the whites and that ended up being much more work with our small basked press.
As we loaded the grapes and juice into the press at least half of the end total ended up being free run and coming out of the press as soon as we loaded it and into the collection bucket. Zweigelt is a dark, almost black juice. Tasting it straight out of the press I was actually impressed how soft it tasted. I’d been sampling some of the Blaufränkisch during fermentation and it had a much more tannic flavor profile at this point. The Zweigelt had none of the harshness that the other reds have currently.
Our only regret is that like most other varieties we didn’t end up with that much juice this year. While we are thankful to have anything to work with this year it would have been nice to have some more of this as the fruit was incredible.
Our hopes for Blaufränkisch in Michigan are high. Many of our vines have done well over the past 3 years after some early worry about their survival and this fall our fruit was solid.
Like many other varieties we are growing it would have been nice to let the fruit mature a little more for increased brix it wasn’t an option for us. In the end we had brix around 21-22 and think that we can make it work this year.
Don’t fear the umlaut
Our Pinot Noir planting is a combination of several clones (4, 113, 115, 667, and 777) and ideally we would vinify each variety on its own to get a better feel for each clones characteristics and better understand which ones are best for our vineyard soil. But this being year 3, the majority of vines are not producing fruit at this point (since we see the long term goal we are ok with that) so all the Pinot fruit was picked and fermented together.
While not as dark as the Zweigelt or Blaufränkisch we are pretty happy with the amount of color we ended up with. More importantly we are happy with overall taste at this point. Only time will tell but we are optimistic on how this has turned out.
In an effort to always be improving our process and outcome, next year I’ll try to figure out a way to do a 5+ day cold soak of the fruit before we start the fermentation in order to extract even more color and flavor. We will also get some small barrels for a more classic aging program.
Now that all the reds are pressed and in storage there is just going to be a lot of waiting for us. That will be hard as after all this time we really want to see how the wine turns out.