Search This Blog

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A day in Napa

Today, I was fortunate enough to be invited by my friend Arleigh Taylor to visit a winery where he has a little project in the works, Arleigh and another friend, David Friend, have decided to try making a couple of barrels of wine, a lofty project. As many who know me understand, I have been a wine drinker and student of wine for many years now, and this project holds a great deal of interest to me, as it gives me interesting access to the making of a new label. Yes, Arleigh and David are making a wine to be produced and sold. They are nuts.

We started with a look at a truck full of grapes, one ton of which belongs to the guys, and will form the juice that eventually becomes their wine. These are not the bulk grapes you see being piled into 3 ton tugs, these are all hand picked and placed in small plastic trays, the grapes are protected from crushing. They are shipped in an enclosed trailer and do not get baked in the sun. Harvest had started during the night, and the grapes were at the winery early in the morning. We arrived at 10:45am with the line already in full production. We received a very interestingt walk through of the process, a rather unique process where the wine will be fully produced in barrel fermentation, mostly in open fermentation at that.

The truck of grapes:

The Initial sort, done by hand, whole berries (grapes) with the stems and leaves sorted out

The Second Sort, looking for small stem pieces and bad berries

The Final Sort, there is certainly a great deal of care to make sure only good berries make it in.

Here are some grapes, staged for sorting, you can see the tight clusters, bright color and tight skins

This is what doesn't make the cut, I like the colors of fall

The barrels, these happen to actually be Burgundy barrels, but, what's in a name?

Grapes in a barrel, ready to start the journey to wine

Being pumped into the barrel for the first time

Here is what that looks like, just before punch down for the first time, look at all the bubbling

Staged before going into the cold ferment area, as you can see, nothing more than a shower cap like covering, not sealed in the least

Here is the cold ferment room, along with a little dry ice to cool things down and slow the ferment

From here, the barrels then move to a heating tent and ultimately to a warm fermentation room

A few of the barrels we saw had actually been open fermented, then had the barrel head replaced, while the wine was still in the barrel

There was more to the visit, but, that is enough for one post.


  1. even though you know im not a sp) drinker... i always enjoy the process to making the world's favorite drinks

  2. I'll read your new posts tonight, but wow, beautiful pictures you have! Especially the one of the left-out grapes.

  3. Thanks Mai, I really liked that shot as well. The crew thought I was nuts leaning under a conveyor of grapes, but, it was a great shot.