Just three days before the start of vendage and the rest of my wooden tanks are in! It seems like I waited forever. Of course, a month can seem like an eternity if we are speaking about winery equipment being delivered just before harvest. Looking at them, they were certainly worth the wait. I do wish that I would have specified that I wanted just one more for the Les Corbeaux lot. However, it makes sense to possibly use the stainless steel tank (tucked in behind the ‘large’ tank on left) for assemblage just before bottling. All things considered, it worked out very well.
You can see in the photos that the spacing is tight, to say the least. The space was used for winemaking many decades ago, but was then used as a typical garage. I’ve done my best to serve the space well by returning it into a cuverie. There is just enough space to enter in between the tanks for cleaning, some room for storing punchdown tools/shovels. And in the main path, there is enough room to pass through with fruit cases filled with de-stemmed grapes before being dumped into the tanks by hand. There is also enough head room to either use a punchdown tool or to use your feet to punchdown. This really is a small point due to my rare punchdown schedule. All in all, it is exactly what I was shooting for. I’ll just have to make sure that everything is well ventilated during primary fermentations. Luckily we have a huge set of doors at the entrance that open up the whole side of the cuverie.
There is also some tasks which I have to complete since I now have wooden tanks. Being new tanks, it is necessary to fill them with water prior to the harvest. Tonight, just 30 minutes after installation, I was in the cuverie spraying down the interior walls of the tanks to take away some of the coloring from the oak, as well as some harsh bitter tannins that rest on the surface of the walls. When you fill the tanks a bit and let the water rest for say 15 minutes and then drain, the water rushing out of the bottom spout is almost like a brown tea color. Certainly not something you want in the wine. I will rinse the walls roughly 3-4 times a day until Friday night. I will then fill the tanks and leave them overnight to allow a thorough soak. The water is then drained and the tank will be ready to be filled with destemmed grapes.
The remaining days before harvest will be filled with settling random things, such as walking the vineyards, charting sugars and acidity, as well as making sure all of the equipment is functional and efficient. This last part isn’t too much of an ordeal as there simply isn’t that much equipment to sort out. Most of the work is done by hand…literally. Since we will be pulling fruit from multiple vineyards on Saturday the 25th, I have enlisted the help of a few local buddies to find a few guys to lend a hand. Should be fun! 😉