Night picking – It’s what the cool kids do.
Cooler temperatures keep sugar levels stable, and acid levels are better. Cool fruit means better control over the fermentation process. Night picking (or should we say early morning picking) happens during the coolest time of day, which is around 3AM.
Safe to say the pickers prefer the night as well. The lower temperatures not only mean less sunburns from the sweltering sun, but bees and snakes are sound asleep as well. All in all, it is worth the early wake up call.
Additionally, we prefer a good cold soak after pick. Grapes are cooled to below 55 Degrees for several says before fermentation. Cold soaking gives us more color, and more flavor!
Flowering usually happens about 4 to 6 weeks after bud break, depending on weather. This can be a stressful time, as this stage will determine the amount of berries on each grape cluster, and the delicate grape flowers are vulnerable to damage from wind, rain, or even late frost.
Precautions can be taken – the use of giant fans to circulate the air, or sprinkling the vines with water to shield them in ice (yes, really!). Fortunately, frost is rarely an issue for us here in beautiful Dry Creek Valley.
On April 14th, we noticed the very first signs of flowering in the Zinfandel Vineyard this year. No, bees aren’t needed here, as the grape vines take care of the pollinating process on their own!
Bud break marks the beginning of the grape vine’s annual growing season. After a Winter of dormancy, warmer soil conditions push water and nutrients up through the root system. Buds developed in the previous growing season swell and begin to push tiny shoots, and the first sign of green emerges in the vineyard.
Bottling started around July 27th this year.
The tasty juice has been sitting in barrel, just waiting for its moment to shine. We feel that French Oak gives the grapes the best opportunity to show their true personality. From the Barrel Aged Sauvignon Blanc (6 months in barrel), to the inaugural Bordeaux Blend (24 months in Barrel), they all took different paths until finally settling again in the bottle.
Cross-Flow Filtration – used right before we bottle the wine.
Wine is run over a thin organic membrane. The liquid parts of the wine pass through the membrane, while the particles are pushed across. Wine passed through the membrane is bottled.
We don’t always filter. But when we do, we prefer to use a Padovan 4 Chamber Cross-Flow Filtration System.
WHY DO WE FILTER?
Wine is ever-changing, even in the bottle. There is always a chance the wine can spoil. Any bacteria remaining in the wine after bottling increases the risk of spoilage. Cross-flow filtration not only removes remaining yeast particles that cloud the wine, but it also eliminates all presence of bacteria. We prefer our wine to be bacteria-free.
WHEN DO WE LEAVE A WINE UNFILTERED?
When the opportunity presents itself. For the 2019 vintage, we have two wines that are unfiltered. Our 2019 Quail Hill Chardonnay, and the 2019 Bacigalupi Pinot Noir.
Both wines went through full Malolactic Fermentation (we will talk more about this in a future post). This secondary fermentation gets rid of any unwanted bacteria.
We are extremely excited about all the changes at Cast. This is the first vintage we have used a cross-filtration system. Imagine feeding the wine through a giant sponge several times. Now imagine the wine flowing across the surface of the sponge. Both get the job done. The latter is much gentler on the wine, works more efficiently, and wastes less wine.
Cold Stabilization – the process of cooling the wine that causes tartaric acid to form tartrate crystals, also known as wine diamonds.
WHY DO WE DO IT?
Well, as fun as wine diamonds sound, most people would prefer that they weren’t in their wine. They are completely harmless and have no taste. Oddly enough, crushed tartrate crystals are the same thing as cream of tartar, which makes snickerdoodle cookies taste better.
We put all of our white wines through cold stabilization. For 2 weeks before bottling, the wine sits in the tank at 30 degrees. The copper pipes freeze, as well as the outer coat of the tank.
The official definition of veraison is “change of color of the grape berries”.
It represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening. We first noticed this change for the 2020 season on July 10th in the Watson Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyard.
The green berries have zero brix (brix is the measurement of sugar level in the grapes), and the purple berries that we spotted were closer to 5 brix. We are looking for around 23 brix to harvest.
White grapes of course go through the veraison process as well, but instead of changing color, they become more translucent.
To see this process for yourself, we highly recommend visiting a vineyard in the Summer – late July or August is the best time to be able to spot this transition in the grapes.
Things are moving along very quickly this year!