Busy Year-Round: A Peak Into Missouri Winemaker’s Post-Harvest Routine
November 15, 2018
“The care we take now to manage the plants and their welfare is a long-term investment in the stewardship of our land,” said Andrew Meggitt, winemaker at St. James Winery. Meggitt, along with other winemakers don’t stop working when harvest is over. For these hardworking folks, the work has just begun. From checking the chemical stability of wine to preparing the vineyard for pruning, here’s a look into continued wine production at a few Missouri wineries.
At Edg-Clif, as harvest season ends and fermentation is complete, it’s time to monitor and test the basic chemistry and temperature stability of the wines.
Through strategic scheduling and planning, red wines start aging in barrels. “This becomes a choreographed endeavor that requires careful planning to rack the 2017 vintage reds from the barrel, clean and inspect those barrels, then refill them with the 2018 vintage,” said Cyndy Keesee, winemaker at Edg-Clif Vineyard Winery & Brewery. The catch? This whole process is done in the same day!
Once the new year begins and cold stability is complete, bottling begins. The bottling process typically begins toward the end of February.
As the harvest season flows from October into early November at Balducci Vineyards, many of the wines have fermented dry. However, the norton grape still needs time. Norton requires ongoing attention. It will continue to macerate with the seeds and skins for at least 30 additional days.
At this point, the white wines have been racked for months on the lees and will be bottled in about four to six months. The chambourcin has been transferred to the barrel and will remain there for another 10 months as it progresses through malolactic fermentation1.
And finally, deep cleaning begins and all the harvest equipment is put away until next year – but the work to make great Missouri wines isn’t over!
At St. James Winery, as the vineyard leaves begin to turn and harvest season is drawing to a close, winemakers and grape growers begin to think about the days that remain in the calendar year.
In the cellar, fermentations are slowing or complete and production staff begin blending the first of the wines. From now until the new year, the creation of the 2018 vintage involves filtration, tasting, fining and making any needed tannin adjustments.
Meanwhile, preparation begins for next year’s crop in the vineyard. Soil samples are taken and the team analyzes and considers adjustments for early 2019. The graft unions are covered to protect them from the winter temperatures and the trellis is repaired, posts replaced and preparations made for pruning in December. Other pre-pruning practices include moving rocks, replacing dead wood and removing damaged vines.
Four Horses and a Dog Winery closes out harvest season as they crush their remaining grapes.
For their vignoles, everything that was grown this year was harvested by August and has since been placed into fermentation tanks. The chambourcin grapes, harvested mid-October, are being processed and will soon be fermented. The year will close out as they label their 2017 vintages.
This year Four Horses and a Dog Winery is a little busier than most winters! They’re currently expanding and adding a warehouse to the property for additional fermentation tanks and space for finished wine. Exciting, yet busy times are ahead at the winery!
As the year winds down and winter draws near, it’s time to start fermentation at Crown Valley Winery. While harvest concludes, red wines are being pressed and in some cases are moved into the process of malolactic fermentation1.
The cellar crew is hard at work and busy with their day-to-day operations. The Crown Valley crew works diligently to co-pack the majority of their products. They have canning lines as well as multiple bottling lines to help bring products to market for the beverage industry.
Harvest is wrapping up at Chaumette Vineyards & Winery and fermentation is almost complete. The white grapes ripened later than normal this year so they are nearing the end of the fermentation process.
Other activities that are unfolding at the winery include racking the wine off the yeast, letting the wine settle and consolidating tanks at the warehouse. All of this is done to prepare for the mixing and blending that will soon take place.
Cold stabilization will occur shortly and even though it doesn’t affect the taste or quality of the wine, this process ensures that crystals won’t form after the wine has been bottled. As the temperatures cool, winter provides a prime environment for stabilization to take place.
Lastly, in addition to wine production running through each of its stages, there is always equipment, facilities and areas that need to be scrubbed and cleaned. Although it’s hard to believe, the 2019 harvest season will be here before we know it!
For Missouri wineries, a lot is happening at all times of the year. Whether it’s farm teams working hard in the vineyard, or the cellar teams crafting great wines… all of the hard work comes together to produce the spectacular Missouri wine we all know and appreciate.
1Malolactic Fermentation:Process in which in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid