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Corley Family Napa Valley

Chris Corley
September 4, 2008 | 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 !

Time Posted: Sep 4, 2008 at 9:28 PM Permalink to FERMENTATION CHECK: Home Ranch - Block 2 Pinot Noir Clone 777 Permalink Comments for FERMENTATION CHECK: Home Ranch - Block 2 Pinot Noir Clone 777 Comments (313)
Chris Corley
August 31, 2008 | Chris Corley

And They're Off !

Posted By : Chris Corley

On Friday, we picked our first red wine batch of the year. Although we've picked some small lots for sparkling wine, harvest never quite feels underway until you've got a batch of red grapes in the house.

We picked about 4 tons of Clone 777 Pinot Noir from Block 2, which is up towards the front of the property, nearest to Big Ranch Road. The grapes looked great, and we're growing accustomed to Block 2 being the inaugural batch each vintage. Typically, the Pinot Noir in this front block comes in ahead of everything else, and usually about a week to ten days ahead of our Pinot Noir in other blocks.

After the cellar crew, Bacchus and I shared a bottle of Domaine Montreaux on the crush pad to herald in the year's bounty, we ran the grapes through the crusher and got them inside the cellar as quickly as we could to keep them cool.

The berries were fully ripe, with brown seeds, velvety skins and pulp in the berry that slides easily off the seed when you smush the grape in your fingers. We've allowed this batch to cold soak over the weekend and will inoculate with yeast Monday morning. It has already picked up nice color, and I'm excited to be 'elbows-deep' in bins of cool red grapes. It's where my arms belong.

I'm anticipating that our four clones of Pinot Noir in Block 3, on the south side of the estate, will be ready pretty soon. The fruit tastes good, and now that we've got last week's heat spike behind us, we're hoping to have another week or so of  'hang time' with this block.

We'll keep you posted ...

Time Posted: Aug 31, 2008 at 8:09 PM Permalink to And They're Off ! Permalink Comments for And They're Off ! Comments (478)
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