Harvesting our first red

Yes, fermentation has kicked in and is going very well – let’s start with the good news! Last Wednesday a little team of seven people made it to our Regent vineyard in Sulzfeld to harvest the about 0.1 hectare of grapes I had worked with in July. Quite frankly: the grapes could have been in a better condition. Not that they were specifically bad. But having gotten only the basic care they didn’t go through the two wet weeks very well we had in early September. The berries had started bursting and then rotting.

Bursting and rotting grapes

And with bursted grapes rot comes and so we harvested early. It was a beautiful morning and a pleasant piece of work.

My mum at harvest

We did the handwork harvest so we could separate the healthy grapes from the ones which were already rotten. Everything was put into plastic boxes and I added a bit of dry ice with every load (and then closed the lid) so that the evaporating CO2 could protect the grapes from oxidation. Here is the trailer everything was packed on:

Trailer with grape boxes

Shortly before lunch time two boxes of good and half a box of rotten grapes travelled the ten minutes to our winery where the boxes were lifted and the grapes shoveled in the de-stemmer.

Getting the grape box to the de-stemmer

Again I added dry ice to avoid oxidation. The steam was quite spectacular!

Evaporating CO2 in the de-stemmer

All the good de-stemmed grapes went back into a box and we decided to put the rotten stuff (also de-stemmed) in a barrel and let it ferment without additives as well. We have to learn and it will be a fun experiment. A bit of juice went to the lab for analysis purposes. For the potentially interested wine geek the outcome was (not sure if I translate it correctly):

Natural alcohol: 88.4 g/l
Total acid: 8.5 g/l
pH-value: 3.2

Let’s see where the alcohol will be in a couple of days time. The box and the barrel are now in one of our cellars and it only took the barrel a day till the mash started coming to the and condensing at the surface – fermentation had begone.

Grape mash

The box needed a bit longer and started yesterday – it had become a bot cold because of all the dry ice. Oh and we are utilizing another barrel’s CO2 (produced by fermentation) to add a constant protection layer to our box. Again, because we are so scared of oxidation.

One of our cellars

So far it’s looking good, juice is not brown, no funny smells. And: no additives so far. I check the boxes three times a day pushing the mash back underneath the surface so it doesn’t become dry. So exciting to see and taste the juice develop! I’ll keep you posted.

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