Harvest 2018 Fun Facts
• Fastest tank ferment: 4 days; a block of Pinot Noir from Hook Vineyard
• Longest tank ferment:13 days; a block of Pinot Noir from Doctor’s Vineyard
• Yeast: Over 1,200 pounds used
• 65 lots of SLH Pinot Noir and 84 lots of Estate Pinot Noir are in the cellar
• From September through today, the cellar crew has worked over 36,000 hours
• Highest recorded brix: 28.8
• Over 600,000 gallons of wine from the 2018 vintage after fermentation
• Capacity: Potentially, over 1 million gallons of wine in tanks
• Barrels: currently 10,000 full
• Harvest staff: 8 cellar crew, 2 vineyard samplers, 1 vineyard manager, 1 maintenance man, 3 winemakers, 1 lab technician, several harvest crews, and 1 lab kitten to make it a success
• Bottling: 5,000 gallons of wine every day since the start of harvest
• Final day we received grapes: November 2nd
• Tons crushed: a record-breaking 3,286 tons!!
While all this information is fun and interesting, I’d like to take the opportunity to offer a glimpse into what lies ahead at the Winery. Many people who don’t know the ins and outs of the industry will joke with me about the end of harvest, saying how nice is must be to vacation in Hawaii for the next six months, sipping on Mai Tai’s while watching the waves crash at my feet. Not quite!
While vacationing does happen, there is plenty of hard, meticulous work to do. The late nights end, but the winemaking does not. Making wine is a fine art that can be sensitive, delicate, and at times, needy. After all juice has been fermented to alcohol, monitoring status of the resultant wine is key. We monitor malic acid content, a character in grapes that gives white wine a buttery characteristic. We monitor and control volatile acid which, above a specific threshold, can impart a vinegar aroma in wine. Alcohol, pH, and sugar levels are taken into consideration while assessing the mouthfeel of finished wines, aromas, and overall wine quality. The winemaking team will assign grades upon evaluation to establish which lots are superior to others.
Another priority is getting the wine off the lees – dead yeast cells and other particles remaining in a wine after fermentation that form a sediment, much like creamy mud, at the bottom of the fermenting container. Once off the lees, it is time to determine oak regimen. Some lots receive 100% French oak barrel, some see tank oak, some see newly re-staved barrels, and others, no oak at all. Usually sometime between January and March we lay the wines to “rest” by adding an inert gas to the headspace of the holding container which serves to protect the wine against oxidation and spoilage by yeast or bacteria. Everyone gets a little more sleep knowing the wines are “safer”.
Lastly, the blending of wine begins, an art form all its own, with the goal of creating the best wines possible. Thank you for joining us on our journey this harvest. Cheers to the 2018 Harvest! I anticipate this vintage will be “one for your cellar.”