Grapes of the Rhone Valley: Grenache Noir
Business as Usual

Notes from the Cellar: Pomp and Circumstance

By Chelsea Magnusson

The clanging and hammering coming from the construction crew outside the winery seems to echo the pandemonium going on inside the winery.  Construction officially began last week, which is both exciting and stressful.  Stressful because we have our big bottling session lined up for the the end of this month (we'll be bottling Cotes Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Esprit Blanc, Antithesis, Tannat, Esprit Rouge and Panoplie... whew!) and there is much to be done before the bottling truck pulls up to the winery.


So far, the only labor the contractors have been able to start on is simple face work.  Once they get the go-ahead, the real work will commence.  The first projects on the docket include rerouting the water and sewer lines and reconfiguring our electrical lines.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that their work doesn't interfere with our prepping the wines for bottling.  Unfortunately, if they begin and discover that they can't get the work done in time, we're toast in the cellar.  With no water or electricity, there's not a whole lot that we can get done on the production end of the winery.

Currently, we're working on the stabilization of our whites, or more specifically, cold stabilization.  If the wine's not cold stable, we run the risk of the wine throwing tartrate crystals when it's chilled.  This, of course, does not affect the taste or quality of the wine, but it's an aesthetic concern.  To cold stabilize, we racked the wines off their lees and transferred them into stainless steel tanks with temperature jackets.  We can control the temperature on these jackets, so the wines are now being chilled down to about 28°F.  Next, we seeded each tank with potassium bitartrate (used in cooking under the name "cream of tartar") to encourage the excess tartrates to drop out.


Despite the fact that we're running from one project to the next, (Ryan refers to busy days like these as a "three ring circus") all of this work will be well worth it when it's finished.  To know that so many of the wines will be completely finished on our end is a feeling that's quite difficult to describe.  After attending graduation celebrations for friends this past weekend, I realized a bottling is like a parent watching their child receive a diploma.  After all the work, time and attention we've put into these wines, we can finally say "I'm so proud of what you've become - good luck out there."