Cellar Rat: Day Five

Nothing could be quite so precarious as climbing up stacks of barrels, each filled with a half ton of wine, for the sole purpose of measuring their Brix and temperature, until you begin to think to yourself, “Well, shit, if The Big One hits San Francisco right now, we’re totally effed.”

As in, pray you can jump from the top of the barrel mountain without spraining your ankle or breaking your leg,  then running thirty or forty meters out of the room in the vain hope of making it to the exit door without other barrels or boxes or T-bins or steel fermenting vats falling on your pretty little head.

In order to find this picture, I Google image-ed “barrel stacks,” and found this photo on a UC Berkeley website detailing a study that showcased the disastrous effects an earthquake could have on the wine industry.  Let’s all note the photo of the barrels post shaking, shall we?:

Well, then.

In related but less terrifying news, lots of red wines are finishing their fermentation cycle and are being pressed and barreled.  Our little babies are growing up so fast!

It’s been so fun tasting these wines from plain juice, to juice with native yeast fermenting in it, to juice with yeast inoculation, to nearly dry wine, to free-run juice, to hard pressed juice, to young wines with a year or more of barrel aging to complete.  I was talking about it with my barrel climbing, Brix measuring partner-in-crime today, and I concluded that tasting throughout the wine’s life before bottle has really helped me pick out particular nuances in the aroma and taste that can be pinpointed back to each individual step.  It’s really, really neat.

But fear not!  Tonnage wise, we’re only about a third of the way through harvest.  So there’s a plethora of new fruit coming in next week, and its life cycle will look much the same as the fruit we’ve worked with over the last two weeks:  Sort.  Cold soak.  Punch down.  Inoculate.  Punch down.  Measure Brix daily.  Punch down.  Press.  Barrel.  Rinse and repeat.

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