A busy week at Brian Carter Cellars in January
We racked over 130 barrels last week. Brian, Robert and Dennis worked long hours to get this done.
Just to review a little winemaking 101, here is a summary of the Winemaking process at Brian Carter Cellars:
Red grapes Harvested > Shipped to winery > Grapes crushed >
Alcoholic Fermentation > Pressing to barrel > Malo-Lactic Fermentation >
First Racking > Barrel Aging > Blending and Second Racking >
More Barrel aging > Bottling > Bottle aging > Wine for Sale
The first racking does not take place until both the critical Alcoholic and Malo-Lactic fermentations are complete. The completion of these two fermentations is confirmed in our laboratory by measuring for the presence of sugar and malic acid. When yeast have used up all of the sugar in the wine and when the bacteria have converted all of the malic acid to lactic acid then the wine is considered stable and ready rack.
This first racking is essentially pumping the wine out of the barrel while leaving the heavy deposit (called lees) behind. During the process each individual lot is blended together in a tank, usually two to eight barrels per lot. We then add the minimum amount possible of sulfur dioxide to the wine to protect it from oxidation and growth of undesirable yeasts and bacteria. Finally the wine is returned to the cleaned and sanitized barrels, bunged tightly and put into the cool cellar to age.
Now is a great time for me to taste through the barrels and assess the quality of each lot. My enthusiasm for the 2014's has only grown more with every stage. Look for more reports as the wine settles down to age slowly in the barrel.
Brian D. Carter, Winemaker