Monday, October 11, 2010

Riesling: Everybody Is a Star / I Love You For Who You Are

Almost all of our Riesling, fifty tons of it, has been harvested and is on its way to becoming wine. Previous posts have made mention of this grape’s ability to ramp up the excitement level in the winery. Riesling is our bread and butter (no reference here to the way it tastes), and the prospect of beginning another round of Riesling production makes us all giddy and joyous.

On our property, there are eight distinct plantings of Riesling on at least three soil types. As much as it would be convenient to bulk up the juice from these blocks into a couple of large tanks, doing so would eliminate, in one fell swoop, the possibility of making eight distinct tanks of wine. (Our largest format tank has attracted the nickname Bubba, but it might as well be called The Great Homogenizer. It tends to get used for things like Arctic Fox.)

Riesling, From Beginning To End
Four iterations of Riesling (left to right): Juice as it comes from the press, full of solids; juice after settling and racking; wine in its early stage of fermentation, showing cloudiness from yeast cells; finished wine after filtration.

At the most basic level, we need to steer our Rieslings into two styles: Dry and Semi-Dry. Sales of the latter are generally about double those of the former. That alone means we have to have at least two production streams. But winemakers, inveterate tinkerers that we are, love experimenting with different yeast strains, different fining agents, different fermentation temperatures, and whatever else we think might add complexity and interest. Add those practices to the more obvious need to see what our different soils have been up to this year, and it’s easy to see why we end up with many small tanks of Riesling.

By: Peter Bell, Winemaker

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