Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thirteen Active Fermentations

grapes being dumped into the crusher/de-stemmer
the crusher/de-stemmer
a close up

the stems
"barreling down" (wine goes from tank to barrels)

In September, 1995, after dating for one month, we (Steve+Jill) harvested some grapes from the UC Davis teaching vineyard, where Steve was a graduate student. We set out to make one carboy (5 gallons, or two cases) of dessert wine from Muscat of Hamburg. After stomping on the grapes and pressing them, Steve put the carboy in his garage. He started spending more time at Jill's house, and less time with his housemates, and forgot about the wine. The next summer, when he was moving in, we discovered that the wine had gotten overheated in the garage and turned to Sherry! It was actually delicious.
We continued to make wine every year after that, with better success as the years went on.
This year's harvest is our 17th together. We started making wine under the MATTHIASSON label in 2003. We started making a very small quantity of our Red Wine with the idea of slowly increasing production slowly, which is pretty much what we’ve done, though we've indulged Steve's restlessness by adding all sorts of different wines to the MATTHIASSON lineup.
As Steve’s reputation as a winemaker (and not just a vineyardist) has grown, other folks have hired him to make wine for them. We also recently started a new, larger wine brand, with some partners. So our five gallons of Sherry has grown quite a bit as of late and for the last two months, Steve has been tending between 11 and 13 active fermentations at any one time (25 separate lots of wine this harvest)!
Flora fermenting on the skins
This is an incredibly late year, and right now he is fermenting Flora, for our dessert wine; five lots of Cabernet Sauvignon; and one lot of Merlot. Most of the lots are done and in barrel resting now, including all the pieces of the White Wine, the Cabernet franc and Refosco from our home vineyard, and the Red Hen Merlot. It's been very busy around here and we're looking forward to putting these babies to bed!

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