We bottled the 2017 vintage on December 16th (the rosé) and 17th (the Chardonnay). It is a pretty simple, but labor intensive process. Here it is broken into steps, as well as I can explain them:
- Rack the base wine - racking is the process where we take move wine from one tank to another and try to leave behind the layer of "stuff" in the bottom of the first tank. We have been experimenting with using several rackings instead of filtering our wines, and we really like the result.
- Sweeten the base wine - we add organic cane sugar to our base wine to get the sugar up to a specific level so that when the yeast is added and re-ferments in bottle, we get a specific pressure within the bottle. Not too much to make it explode, and just enough so that we have the right amount of bubbles.
- Re-pitch yeast to base wine - in the wine world we use the word pitch, much like in baseball. It's the method for delivering a specific strain of yeast into a wine, just like a pitch delivers the ball to the hitter.
- Sparge nitrogen gas into bottles - sparging is squirting some nitrogen into the bottles, the method we use helps to loosen and get rid of any dust that might be in there, and also adds a layer of nitrogen to the bottle, so that as the bottles fill the wine does not become too oxidized.
- Fill bottles with wine - this one's pretty self explanatory...
- Stir the tank with yeast and sugar in it every 15 minutes or so - with the yeast that was added at the beginning we need to make sure it stays relatively in suspension, the yeast has been rehydrated so that it is already multiplying, but it's better to not have tons of yeast just sitting at the bottom of the tank that gets bottled into the last few bottles of wine.
- Cap bottles - we cap all of our bottles for this first stage of bottling. The caps we use are similar to beer caps. This ensures the pressure stays in the bottle instead of leaking out and losing some of the bubbles we've been cultivating.
- Stack into stillage for aging/storage - most sparkling wines are stored on their sides, so that the wine to yeast contact is maximized. The yeast will ferment the sugars no matter how the bottle is stored, but letting them lay on their sides supposedly changes the way the flavors develop as the wine ages. We like the yeasty flavors to be imparted to our wines, so the more contact the better.
If you would like to see the process or feel like we missed some crucial steps, please reach out and ask your questions. We would love to take the opportunity to chat with you about our wines and why we are so passionate about the way we make them.