One thing you will hear vineyardists and vintners say about starting up a winery is “it’s hard work”. All of our grapes are safely pressed out into tanks now, culminating a string of 16 – 20 hour days and rushing between Toronto and the County every other day. Energy to do all this came from somewhere — certainly not from skipped lunches, a coffee deficit ( no time for coffee drinking ), or the occasional Powerbar. We underestimated how much time Winemaking activity would take — it’s not really something you do in a relaxed evening.
Here are my observations:
- winemaking is messy
- winemaking consists mostly of cleaning and disinfecting equipment, hoses, and floors
- four tonnes of grapes means a lot of trips to the compost pile to dump marc (the pressed skins and discarded stems)
- fermentation requires vigilance — punch downs, punch overs, and stirring — for two or three weeks
- fermentation is really cool — our Chardonnay looked like it was on a high boil and the Pinot Noir bubbled away on its skins like a witch’s cauldron
- this is really challenging to do with one foot in the City, one foot in the County
- all things must end
And indeed, all things must end. Now the yeast fermentation is done and last weekend we inoculated the young wines with malolactic bacteria. This will convert some of the sharp malic acid to a softer tasting lactic acid, smoothing out the wine. We can start to focus more on other things and check the progress every week or so.
But the work’s not done. We’ve hired a hardy crew to help us finish up the vineyard. They’ve been tying down the vines in preparation for burying for overwintering. It’s been taking one worker about a day to tie down one row of vines. We hope to be done in a couple of weeks, before the cold nights make the ground seize up, and turn into frozen concrete.