Early August 2018, the pressure was on; there was definitely going to be a harvest. The volumes were estimated to be modest and the vines not fully grown so it was to be a hand picking harvest.
The requirement was to recruit about 20 people, borrow crates from a friendly Chateau and hire equipment for the winery.
With 3 different grape varieties there are different ripening dates.
It was a very interesting time with the hiring and management of the pickers but the job got done in two days in September for the Merlot and Cab Franc and another day for the Petit Verdot in October. Volumes might have been light, however the oenologist reports indicated great quality.
It was a very manuel operation with each basket presented to the crusher and de-stemmer before being pumped up into the vats. It was all good experience to learn what was needed to manage a full volume harvest, basically more investment.
Yeast is added to the vats to begin the alcoholic fermentations. This process converts the sugar to alcohol and generates quite a bit of heat. It was challenging to manage temperatures, too high and the yeast dies. This process went for about 2 weeks before separating the free run wine from the grape remains and then the pressing.
A classic basket press was used to squeeze the wine from the residue skins and this was stored in a separate vat(pressings). The free run wine was transferred to 300 litre barrels and vats. The malolactic fermentation (conversion of malolactic acid to lactic acid) followed for all the wine.
This process took weeks before the wine was drained from sediments (lies) and put to maturation with some sulphur and closed off to air.