Well, fermentation is well under way! When I last posted, I had just completed my stompdown and crushing of 200 lbs of Eaglepoint Ranch Grenache. Approximately 24 hours later I innoculated the must with yeast, and about 24 hours after fermentation officially kicked in.
As you’ll notice from the picture above (taken about 3 days into fermentation), a considerable amount of grape skins have risen to the top of the fermenting must. This thick cap of skins makes for a pretty static, or uneventful looking pic. What is really important during this period is to conduct a regular punchdown or (in french) pigeage of the skins.
Why is a consistent punchdown or pigeage schedule so important?
1. Punchdowns will facilitate the further extraction of anthocyanins, chemical compounds responsible for the color of various plantlife including grapeskins. Extraction of these pigments are very important during vinification as this is what will impart color to the finished wine.
2. Consistent punchdowns will ensure that the surface of the fermenting must never dries out, thereby mitigating the chance of rogue bacteria growing in and negatively influencing the quality of the finished wine.
My punchdown tool is none other than my potato smasher. As you can see from above, a natural byproduct of the fermentation is lots of CO2, or carbon dioxide. Fast forward to 6-7 days into the fermentation and all of this foamy action begins to abate a bit.
Within the next few days I will take my sugar levels once again to see how fermentation has progressed. When I get to 0 degrees of potential alcohol, or when virtually all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol, I will press the new wine!