“It all starts with the fruit – you can’t make great wines from mediocre fruit.”
Cashel Vineyards (CV) is a small 4-acre boutique vineyard that currently produces about 5 ton of premium wine grapes per season. The vineyard is located within a few hundred yards of the Lune Solaire Winery Co-operative (LSWC) and is owned by LSWC members Mary and Jeanette and is managed and cared for by Wayne, who is also a member of the Lune Solaire Winery Co-operative.
Mary, Jeanette, and Wayne sell their grapes to LSWC exclusively and have been generous in sharing and collaborating with the winemakers at LSWC on viticulture practices, methods, and harvesting techniques. We believe this symbiotic relationship between LSWC and CV is paramount in developing a first-class vineyard at CV and ultimately producing the most delicious wines possible at LSWC.
Their varietals are:
- Roussanne (2021)
- Cinsault (2021)
- Petite Sirah
Lune Solaire also sources grapes from Clos du lac Vineyards, Kaye Vineyards, Chalome Vineyards, and Sierra de Monserrat Vineyards for the following varietals:
The crush starts with the arrival of the fruit. If we are picking the fruit ourselves at Cashel Vineyards, we pick into 25# crates which are loaded onto our pickup and trailer to make the short 1/4 mile trip to the winery and the crush pad. We align the sorting table to either the trailer or pickup bed and then dump each crate onto two parallel surfaces on the table, each surface is manned by 2 sorters. We sort clusters both in the field while we are picking and prior to destemming. Depending upon the condition of the grapes, we could be sorting for more than berry development and ripeness. We could be evaluating bird/wasp damage, sunburn, or possibly even powdery mildew. On the dual-channel sorting table, the grapes are sorted back into 25# crates and stacked ready for the de-stemmer/crusher. The 4 men sorting team can generally sort a ton of grapes in about 90 minutes. Once the sorting is complete, we run the grape clusters through the de-stemmer/crusher and dump the resulting juice and broken grapes into stainless steel fermentation tanks. We then prepare the must for fermentation.
We ferment in stainless steel exclusively. Right after the must has been put in the SS container, we take temperature, sugar, acid, and pH readings and then raise the SO2 level to about 50ppm to kill the native wild yeasts. About 24 hours later we inoculate with our chosen yeast strain and then, depending primarily upon temperature, fermentation usually becomes active somewhere between 1-3 days after inoculation. Once the fermentation has begun, we generally add some amount of yeast nutrients such as Fermaid-K and then another addition of nutrients about the time that 75% of the sugar has been converted to alcohol. During fermentation, we are also vigorously punching down the cap as many as three times per day for musts in most of our containers. We also have a small custom made pump-over system for our 700+ liter containers. Our pump-over frequency is once per day. During fermentation, we are recording the temperature at each punch-down and we are taking sugar readings about every other day. To control occasional high temperatures, we have, at times, inserted containers with ice into the must.
At some point during or after fermentation, we make the decision to press the wine off of the skins. This decision is based upon the speed and vigor of the fermentation, the color and density of the juice, the characteristics of the varietal, and what style of wine we are trying to make. So, after we press, the wine goes back into the SS container to finish fermentation and to an then later age, sur lie, for the next month or three.
Making white wine is fairly new to us. We halfheartedly tried it twice in the past with mediocre results but in 2016 we took it more seriously and made a Viognier that was very pleasant. Our process after sorting the fruit is to crush/destem and put the must into SS for a cold soak of anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Like the Reds, we also take readings and bump the SO2 up to 50ppm to kill the wild ambient yeast strains. After the juice has been through a short cold soak, we press off the skins. Since we have little experience with whites, our decision as to when to press is mostly guided by the richness of color, the aroma, and how long we intend to age sur lies.
Once we decide to press, we remove half of the skins allowing half of the juice to free run and then the other half of the juice is pressed lightly to 1 atm using a 3 atm bladder fruit press. since we have been pretty satisfied so far with our results, we have not tried to cold settle the must before fermentation. Once we do have a must, we inoculate and later add nutrients just like we do with the reds. Contrary to the cold settling method, we stir the must twice a day during fermentation to keep the solids suspended. When the must become completely dry we seal up container and top it with nitrogen for a long three to four-month ageing, settling, racking cycle. With whites, we open up the container about twice a week to stir up the lees collecting at the bottom and then about midway through the cycle, we let the wine settle for a few weeks, rack it off, and then do it one or two more times to clear it up before filtering and bottling.
Sur Lie Ageing
In general, we age our whites and rose’s, sur lie for as long as four to six months and age our reds, sur lie for only two to three months after dryness is achieved. With the reds, sometimes malolactic (ML) fermentation begins during sur lie but generally, we prefer to start ML after we have racked off the fine lees and before barrel ageing.
We do not yet cold stabilize our wines, although our volumes are enough such that a small scale glycol system would be practical and maybe within our budget. We are discussing what that system and its costs might look like going into the 2020 season.
…more to come here…