So we've already harvested our grapes. Sorry I didn't let you know. It was a hectic time. Since we didn't get our winery built or licensed this year, we had to search for a place to make a few gallons of experimental wine. We decided on my father's walk-in cooler in the back of the old Dover's Supermarket. Sure it's not the winery I had hoped to have and fermenting two wines while having only one temperature is sure to compromise the quality of the production, but this has still been a great experience. A friend of mine once asked me "How do you learn to make good wine? Make bad wine!" Well, I hope that's not what I'm doing, but we've hit many obstacles along the way which (H2S and VA) will help me to be a better winemaker down the line.
In true Dover Farms fashion, we did all the of the winemaking by hand. We used a hand crank crusher destemmer, a manual basket press, we carried the grapes and must up the back stairs to the cooler where the juice and must were macerated and fermented. We had tons of great volunteers who came out on a Saturday to help us pick, sort, and crush/destem our Vidal. It was truly a village like experience. It makes me realize even more than ever that this whole venture would not be possible without the incredible support of our community. They are so excited for this wine because they've watched the vineyard grow; they've worked on the vines; they've helped harvest the grapes: they can't wait to taste a sip of their work.
We harvested our Chambourcin at 23 Brix and 3.4 pH. A large portion of the grapes had started to get ripe rot and we decided to harvest them on the 67th day after we sprayed Mancozeb (it has a 66 day PHI). The numbers were perfect for making a light red wine. We harvested our Vidal blanc the day after a pretty hard rain. It was a gamble if we should pick that day or not, but that morning, the numbers were 23 Brix and a 3.3 pH. I couldn't ask for better numbers! We harvested a few on Sunday and Monday the days following (rain was scheduled for those days, however it didn't happen). The numbers didn't really go up. The flavour of the grapes was not strong, but thanks to some enzyme action and maceration, we'll hopefully make a wine that doesn't taste like diluted gatorade.
I don't have any pictures right now of the harvest (I misplaced my camera for about a month), so I'll have to download some from my phone as soon as I figure out how to do that.
All of the wines have finished fermenting and the Chambourcin has begun its malo-lactic conversion. I hope to be able to cold stabilize both of them very very soon (since they are in the same room). The wines are tasting quite good and I can't wait to taste the final product. We'll have some in bottles around December, so stop by the farm stand and ask for a taste!!