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Corley Family Napa Valley

Chris Corley
September 4, 2008 | Crush ! | Chris Corley

FERMENTATION CHECK: Home Ranch - Block 2 Pinot Noir Clone 777

NOTE : We spend a lot of our time doing Fermentation Checks each day during harvest. As it relates to our blog, 'FERMENTATION CHECK' will be an opportunity for us to share our cellar activities with you in real time.


We harvested 3.9 tons of Pinot Noir Clone 777 from Block 2 on August 29. Psychologically, it always feels a little funny to be picking your red grapes in August, but if the flavors are there then you're good to go. In general, our Pinot Noir this year is about a week ahead of "normal", so the Pinot Noir season isn't really all that much shorter for us this year.

The fruit was crushed to 3/4 ton bins, where we cold-soaked for 3 days before inoculating with yeast on Monday morning. A lot of color is extracted during these first 3-5 days of skin contact, and this Pinot Noir was already showing a nice vibrant ruby glow at inoculation.

With this fermentation, I'm trying to keep the temperatures from getting too high, so I'm aiming for ferment running in the low 80s. We've left the lids off the bins the whole time so the ferment can expel its heat. We also used a slower fermenting yeast at a very low inoculum rate so that the ferment wouldn't run away. When I was punching these bins down this afternoon the aromas of berries, spice, and tea leaves was invigorating. As they usually do at 15 brix, this juice is tasting great and today I'm starting to sense some of the tannins picking up. Tomorrow, we'll likely cut the daily punchdowns from 2 per day to 1 per day.

I'll decide in the morning over a cuppa juice !


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