How Wine is Made: Part 2 Harvest to Bottle

Wes Hagen takes you into the winery, and poised in front of a press and crusher destemmer, takes you the process of how we make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay here at Clos Pepe.  No secrets, nothing held back, these are all of our production techniques for making great wine here at Clos Pepe.

We believe the 'secret' to our winemaking is growing great fruit, so we're happy to share!

Video Transcript
AUDIO START: [0:00:02]

Hey, everybody, welcome to the Clos Pepe winery, the first time on these weekly videos that we've been here in the winery, and the subject for this week of course. Last week we did how wine is made in the vineyard, this week we're going to be talking about how wine is made once the fruit is grown and arrives at the crush platform here at the winery.

So, we pick at night, we picked from about 9 o'clock at night until about 4 o'clock in the morning and usually around 3 to 4 in the morning we'll bring all the fruit into Lompoc and we're on the west side of Lompoc at the Clos Pepe Estate Winery here, and you can see two machines in back of me. On your left would probably be the crusher destemmer, and on my left or your right would be our press, so those are the two major pieces of equipment we're going to be discussing tonight. So, when we bring the grapes in they have been hand harvested, they're in thousand pound bins which is about a 4x4 bin about two feet deep and we take those bins, we take them off the back of the truck, bring them in, they're nice and cold. So, we'll put them on a bin dumper and then we will dump the grapes slowly into our crusher destemmer which separates the juice and the grapes which goes into a fermenter, we use ton and a half fermenters or about a 3,000 pound fermenter, and those grapes go into the fermenter and the stems shoot out the side.

So, the stems go into a bin and we take them back to the vineyard to be composted. At that point basically the grapes are measured for temperature and we would like to see the grapes come in between 45 degrees or lower, and if they're much warmer than 45 degrees we're probably going to add a little bit of food grade dry ice to keep the temperature down to about 45 degrees in a nice cool 55, 65 degree winery, a 45 degree cold soak will occur for maybe three or four days where the grapes and juice all mixed up in the fermenter are basically going to spend maybe two or three days slowly rising from 45 degrees up to about 65 degrees. And at about 65 degrees those grapes are pretty much ready to start fermenting, about 70, 75 degrees, boom, the fermentations going to be happening very fast, and if you bring grapes in much warmer than 75 degrees you can imagine that they're probably already fermenting.

Magically, the same thing that protects the skins of the grapes which is the bloom, a waxy substance, also keeps yeast on it, so when we bring the grapes into the winery they already have yeast on them, so if we just let the grapes warm up they'll just start fermenting all by themselves, fermentation is a very organic process in that way, but want to usually allow, this is just our personal recipe for making wines, so this is how we make wine at Clos Pepe, I'm not suggesting this is how everybody makes it, but this is what we do. So, we wait two or three days until the grapes come up to temperature a little bit, a little bit warmer, up to about 65 degrees, and then we usually notice there's a little fermentation happening around the edge of the bin and when the bubbles start coming up at the edge of the bin we know the temperature is right to make a yeast addition.

So, the yeast is going to be added two or three days after the grapes are crushed and at that point the yeast is added and right at the time where the spontaneous or feral fermentation is starting to happen from the yeast that's coming in on the grapes. So, at that point we add the yeast to the wine, we may add a little bit of yeast nutrient, a product called Fermaid. Fermaid is added at about one gram per gallon and that gives the grapes some extra vitamins and some nitrogen, so the yeast is actually consuming the sugar and giving off alcohol and carbon dioxide and not producing off aromas like hyrdrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs. So, if your fermentation gets really stressed your wine can really start taking on sort of a stinky egg character and we want this winery to smell kind of like this wonderful blueberry pie aroma, it's almost like perfume it's so delicious during fermentation.

So, that's the way that we would ferment red wine, we would basically let the skins and the juice settle in the tank fermenting for maybe seven to 10 days and then once the wine is really bone dry in the fermenter, 0 Brix or even lower than that because the hydrometer will go past zero because alcohol will allow the hydrometer to sink deeper. At about zero Brix when the wine is dry we press it off the skins, we take the pressed wine and we put it into a barrel and that's where that wine sits for 11 months and we fill the barrels every two weeks to perfectly full and we just let it alone. We never rack the wine, we never pull the clean wine off the sediment, we leave the wine in contact with the sediment from the press for a full 11 months, and then at the very end of the season we rack the wine off the sediment and then boom, we've got wine in a tank, tank goes through a very rough filter, we filter the wine very gently into another tank, and that tank is ready for bottling.

With white wine production it's a little different except we kind of handle it the same way, we make Chardonnay, it's the only white wine we make here, the first description of red wine making was specifically for Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir, I should mention we use RC212, assmanhausen, we use a few yeasts like BRL97, and once and a while a different yeast like 3100 or this new yeast called Clos, which is appropriate, I guess, and it's pretty good, so we try to mix up the yeast, mix up the clones, as many different things and press it into barrel and be done with it 11 months later. With white wine it's a little different, we put the whole clusters of Chardonnay directly into the press and what happens in the press, I should describe, is it's a big nylon balloon inside of a perforated stainless barrel and inside that barrel there's little holes in it, so you fill the barrel with grapes and then you inflate the bladder and the bladder pushes the grapes against the outside metal and then the wine leaks out and drips into a press pan, and then we press and then we pump the wine or the juice out of the pan into either a barrel, fermentation tank, or what-have-you.

With white wine instead of just crushing the fruit and fermenting it in contact with the skins, the way we make Chardonnay is whole clusters cold right into the press, press the juice off, the juice goes into a barrel, either stainless steel fromage to Chablis or into a French oak barrel for our barrel fermenting, and then we fill the barrels up two thirds of the way and immediately add yeast to it, while we wait three to four days to add yeast to a red wine fermentation. We add a little bit of yeast nutrient, we add a little bit of sulfite to the juice to kind of stun any bacteria or any native yeast that comes in on the juice, and once we've sulfided and fed the juice with a little bit of yeast food we would put yeast directly in the juice the very same couple of hours after we pressed the grapes before we take off for the night.

Then we come in the next day and keep our fingers crossed that that Saccharomyces cerevisiae or the Saccharomyces bayanus, which are the two yeasts we use, will actually start their fermentation process and we'll see bubbles at the top of the juice and it really starts going. Now, if we use my favorite Chardonnay yeast is CY3079, if we inoculate with CY3079 in a barrel that doesn't work and it's not taking the fermentation we may use another yeast called EC1118 which is called Prise de Mousse, it's a champagne yeast and because it's a Saccharomyces bayanus instead of cervisiae it's very, very aggressive and it'll take over a stuffed fermentation or a fermentation that's a little sluggish and get you an absolute bone dry even at low pH, high acid.

So, white wine fermentation, maybe four or five days is all it takes until the wine is almost bone dry, at the moment that the wine has not clarified, it's sort of the color of maybe grapefruit juice, we basically rack that slightly cloudy wine off the sediment, the gross lees, throw the gross lees out, fill the barrels back up with that wonderful, slightly cloudy wine, and then the wine settles to a nice clear kind of a bright, clean, sort of slightly straw colored Chardonnay color, and then the final lees, those beautiful snow lees, those beautiful white lees settle to the bottom of the barrel and then we stir the barrel every two weeks to bring the sediment back up, and we do that for 11 months, topping the barrels every two weeks just like the wine, but in white wine we also stir the lees into the wine to add a little bit of minerality, some complexity, and also the lees protect the wine, so lees are an antioxidants, and the more you can actually integrate the lees the less SO2 we need to use.

After malolactic completes we usually add a little malolactic bacteria both to the red wine and the white wine after primary fermentation, and that malolactic bacteria takes all the malic acid, the more apply acid, and then turns it into lactic acid which is a little more creamy and complete, that creamy acid gives the wine a seamlessness, the creaminess makes the red wine taste more sort of mineral and complete. White wine loses its tropicality, becomes a little bit more austere, minerally, can taste the acid a little bit more and the fruit profile moves from tropical flavors over to more stone fruit, peachskin, apple, and pear.

So, that's pretty much all we do, we take the red grapes, we ferment them in contact with the skins, we take the white grapes, press the juice off, and once the wine is made it lives for 11 months here at Clos Pepe winery at the Clos Pepe Estate Winery here in barrel and at the end of the year we pull the wine out, put it in a tank, give it the light filtration for the reds, a sterile filtration for the whites to make sure that they don't re-ferment in the bottle, and put it into bottle, put a label on it, lay it down for five months, and then we release it, and that's pretty much the story.

I hope you guys enjoyed this. If you have any questions just go ahead and put them in the comments section and other than that I'll have to think of something to teach you next week. So, if you have any suggestions on what you'd like to learn about wine please let us know and as always we're really happy that you guys watched our presentation. Thanks so much, see you next week.

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