Harvest Blog - September 30th
We are deep into Chardonnay production now, with grapes coming in from our Lone Oak Vineyard for the SLH and Lucienne wines and from Arroyo Seco for the Hahn Appellation Series. We barrel ferment most of this fruit, as this technique gives the finished wines complex aromas and flavors as well as a rounder, more generous texture. It is a labor-intensive process, however.
When the grapes come into the winery we press the juice off the skins ever so gently, then allow the juice to settle in tank with the temperature turned low. Next, we rack the juice off the heavy lees (sediment) that settles at the bottom of the tank, inoculate it with yeast, and pump it into small French barrels to begin fermentation. Fermenting the juice dry can take anywhere from 10 to 21 days, and since there’s always evaporation, we top up the barrels every so often to keep them full, with no space for oxygen.
Once dry, we monitor the wines for malolactic fermentation and begin the process of “batonnage”, where we stir the settled lees back into the wine, barrel by barrel, once every two weeks. This technique, along with the malolactic, gives our Chardonnays viscosity and a wonderful creaminess, again adding to their overall interest and complexity.
Although much of our Chardonnay is barrel fermented, we also ferment some of the grapes in stainless steel tanks. These wines tend to have a tighter structure and brighter fruit, and we like having them as an option when we’re putting together our final blends.
The official beginning of fall was last week and I can certainly feel it in the air. The nights are colder, the mornings chillier. The leaves on the vines are starting to yellow, signaling their readiness to go dormant. Their work is nearly complete for the year, although in the winery, we have several more weeks to go!
Juan Jo Verdina-Busch
Senior Production Manager | Hahn Winemaker