Thursday, August 25, 2011

News from Meramec Vineyards

As I prepare for a great natural history and wine tour of Oregon's spectacular Willamette Valley (prairie that hasn't been grazed to hell, savanna, big stately white oaks and an award winning vintage of pinot noir), I encourage you to visit Meramec Vineyards on Friday evenings for their Wine Down Fridays. Meramec's 06 Norton is outstanding (I think they sold out of the 05, which was stellar), and the bistro makes fantastic food.
Here's the latest from Meramec's newsletter:

Crushing - what we're up to

You may notice some activity around the back of the winery building out there on the crush pad. That's where the new vintage begins. (Well actually it begins in the vineyard but the processing starts on the crush pad.) The grapes are picked in large ton bins. The bin is dumped into the crusher which -duh- crushes the grapes. It also destems them... that is takes the berries off the stem and spits the stem out the top while the berries get squished between the rollers and pass with the juice through a hose connected to the bottom. This hose is connected to a pump which transfers the juice and pulp, skins, seeds (all but the stems) into the press if it's white grapes - reds go directly into the fermentation vessel.

And the white varieties are first. They are the early grapes. So we have processed the Seyval (think Bistro Gold) and now the Vignoles.

After pressing, the juice is transferred to a container where the fermentation begins.

An old friend experiences the birth of the wine.
The other day an old friend, Andy Ayers came by. (St. Louisians might recall Riddle's Penultimate Cafe - Andy's restaurant - closed now - with the greatest wine list). Andy came for some fresh Vignoles grapes for delivery and purveying to various restaurateurs. His business and passion now is promoting all locally grown products to the restaurant trade. At any rate, Andy got to taste six day old Seyval fermenting in the tank as well as fresh wine grapes.

He was for many years a wine judge for the State competition, a man with a good knowledge of wine and a well refined pallate. He was excited to taste the wine at such a young stage and also to taste the grape itself. It was something in all his years he had never done. He said it is amazing to taste this and try to envision the final product.
That's what we do.

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