Ramble On

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Volunteer Time at Wisteria Vineyards - 2015 edition

Moussa typically uses the barrels through a few seasons,
progressing from whites to reds, as shown here.
For the first Sunday morning in a while I found myself with some time on my hands, so after the morning coffee dosage I headed around the corner to see if I could pitch in with some of the fall activities at Wisteria Vineyards in Stanley, VA.

As I was driving by yesterday I spied the arrival of a ton of Vidal grapes, so I figured there would be some pressing to do - I got over there at 8:30 or so, knowing that I would probably surprise Moussa in the middle of something.  Most of the volunteers that show up for these things are weekenders like Mary and me, an are inclined to arrive at 10 or so - also like Mary and me.

Pushing the Merlot grapes down into the wine to ensure
balanced and complete fermentation.

Getting there early, the first tasks to be done were to do some work on the Merlot, which had already been crushed and was going through primary fermentation on the skins.  Moussa had three tubs of it, and we went through and pushed all of the grapes on the surface down into the wine.

After we took care of that, we went into the cellar with a sample of the wine pulled from the tubs.  We did a brix test with a hydrometer - the same tool I use for this purpose when I brew, although I work from the gauge's gravity side instead of the brix side.  This wine has been in the tubs for a couple of days now, and the reading showed that fermentation is about two-thirds done - probably only a few more days and this will be ready to press.

Brix testing on Merlot samples.

The volunteers were starting to show up by now, too - the first was Will, a Brit who is traveling across the country on a motorcycle.  He'd met John and Nina on a hike, and they invited him down into the Valley to check out Luray and environs.  He'd made his way over to the winery and had already put in a couple of days on various tasks, so he was ready to pitch right in.

In my next post I'll pick up from here - I spent a good part of the day working on the pressing with the other volunteers, and went back in the evening for a little socializing.

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