Watching our own little row of grapes ripening makes us excited for crushing the next vintage. It won’t be long now!
Finally, our 2013 wine was ready to be bottled! We were overjoyed as our family and our friend Dennis arrived for the fun and festivities. It was a hard working and hilarious crew.
We had two new machines to help with the job. A 10-pad filter helped to fine the wine as it poured into a new automatic bottling machine that filled 6 bottles simultaneously. Brad had worried about these new processes and had done several test runs (with water), so everything went smoothly. The only hiccup during the day was with our corker! The handle broke about halfway through the job. Bo tried using a make-shift handle but even with all of his cross fit training, he needed more leverage for this job. We enjoyed a break together while Brad went to borrow one and we could finish.
The weekend was a mix of work, laughter, recreation, and wonderful family time. When we work together in the wine barn we are always reminded that one of the main reasons we enjoy this hobby so much is the time spent with family and friends.
At the end of the day there are 46 new cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Lemberger in the JBradley barn. It will rest for a few more months to let “the magic happen in the bottle” before we begin drinking it.
As always, we celebrate the cycle from harvest to bottling!
The annual growth cycle of grapevines is the process that takes place in the vineyard each year, beginning with bud break in the spring and culminating in leaf fall in autumn followed by winter dormancy. From a winemaking perspective, each step in the process plays a vital role in the development of grapes with ideal characteristics for making wine.
This is happening right here at JBradley, in our little row of grapevines.
Continuing on our wine-making learning curve, this weekend we purchased bentonite, which, when blended with water creates a clay-like concoction. After it rests for 24 hours it is whisked into a small amount of wine and then is blended with a larger amount of wine. It attracts particles that detract from wine clarity and drags them to the bottom of the container. From there it is siphoned (or racked) off. If we see that it works in this tester carboy we will then apply it to the whole barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon. Each technique we try is new and interesting and worth documenting for the future.
As signs of fall began to appear, winemaking preparations got underway at J Bradley.
After a summer of record breaking heat, Kiona Vineyards began harvesting grapes much earlier than in past years. We got the call on September 5th, so Brad made the trek to Benton City and the harvest-to-barrel process began again!
Babysitting the freshly crushed fruit is a critical time of monitoring the temperature, sugar, and fermentation process, and there is a continual need to punch down the skins so they stay mixed with the juice that falls out. The skins and seeds give the wine it’s beautiful color and tannins so as the skins float to the top of the tank it is necessary to mix it back in. When the sugar measures zero, it’s time to press!
Two weeks after the grapes were picked we reached the magic number. Our friends Julie and Dennis came to help with the big job of pressing all the juice off the skins. (Thank you again, and sorry about your purple hands 😏) The new wine stays in glass carboys for about 3 weeks to allow sediment to fall off, and will then go into barrels for the 2-3 year journey it takes to soften and mature. Good wine takes lots of time and love!
Prior to bottling our 2013 Lemberger we put it through an egg fining process to help clarify the wine. It’s the gentlest way to clarify because it doesn’t alter taste. Evidently it’s a centuries old process still used by many fine winemakers and since we are determined to bottle wine with no cloudiness we gave it a go.
He mixed it thoroughly to disperse it throughout the wine. The egg whites will attract any non-wine particles because of some positive/negative charge nonsense that I don’t understand. Together, they will fall to the bottom of the barrel.
After 8 days we will rack it carefully into glass carboys before bottling in a few weeks. The goal: absolutely clear wine.