Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reserve /rɪˈzɜrv/ [ri-zurv] noun, adjective

From here

To there
We are not quite done with Harvest, as fruit from our Rutherford estate is still being picked. These are the grapes that will eventually become our Estate Reserve wines.
The term “Reserve” in the wine world means many things for many different wineries. And in the US, there are no rules or regulations for what qualifies a wine as a “Reserve”. That being said, Peju’s Reserve wines are truly special, a representation of what happens when proprietors and winemakers take the time to learn about their vineyard and discover where the very best fruit comes from, and what that exceptional fruit is capable of when treated with love, respect, and attention.  

Our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Cabernet Franc Reserve, and H.B. Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve all come from specific blocks, and are then fermented, aged, and blended in such a way that further reveals their beauty and complexity. So "Reserve" at Peju has a "Vineyard Designate" status, but it is also essential to understand that the given vineyard is quite small. And due to that smaller size, the wine exudes what we refer to as "terroir". Not necessarily an earthy taste, but a sense of place, a feeling that comes from drinking a wine grown in a concentrated area with its own microclimate and history. Then, as it continues to be produced year after year after year, what is indicated on the label begins to signify something more and more tangible and recognizable.

And the best part is, despite all of the writing and scoring and analyzing we do, the only way to experience this is by drinking the wine. Cheers! And be sure to look out for the 2012 Rutherford Reserves in about three years when they are finally ready to drink...the valley is in unanimous agreement that 2012 is going to be an outstanding year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Magic of Yeast

The heavenly smell of fermenting red wine now fills the winery, and we have the power of yeast to thank for that. Yeast plays an essential role in winemaking as it converts sugar into alcohol. Without it we would have nothing more than old grape juice.

However, jumpstarting the process is a bit more complicated than dumping some yeast into a tank, so I looked over some shoulders today as we gave the yeast some TLC before inoculating.
When preparing a yeast culture, first it is necessary for the yeasts to be combined with a high temperature liquid. The heat allows the yeast to disperse throughout the liquid and keeps the yeast cells stable.
From there, the yeasts must be slowly and carefully cooled down, so that they can be transferred to the grape must, which is typically kept at around 58 F. Inoculating when the must and yeasts are within about ten degrees of each other ensures the yeast makes a smooth transition and doesn't experience any "cold shock", which could negatively affect the fermenation process.
For the yeast required for just one tank, this temperature adjustment process takes an entire day. Then the yeast is finally introduced to the must, they get to work on eating those sugars, and we get to go home. Just one of hundreds of examples of how in winemaking, the little tasks and details create a final product that is far, far greater than the sum of its parts. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How Far We've Come


There is a certain relief that comes with knowing much of Peju's Cabernet Sauvignon from Persephone has been picked, pressed, and moved into tanks to ferment. Having reached this stage also signals that we are in the heart of harvest, especially as I look over these photos of the berries in their final moments as whole, untouched grapes (before they reach the crusher-destemmer below). With fewer and fewer clusters hanging out there on the vines, it has truly begun to feel like fall. But those bare vines also serve to remind us how much has already been accomplished in the vineyard and in the cellar so far.

According to Sara, our winemaker, fermentations of the Sauvignon Blanc are close to finishing and the wine is smelling and tasting very nice. As for Chardonnay, it is happily fermenting in barrel and smelling fantastic. So cheers to the Harvest season and to Sara and her team!

Employee Pick!

Last week was our Employee Harvest Day, where all of the Peju staff got a chance to get their hands dirty in the vineyard, and find out what it takes to pick like the pros! Here are photos of some of these very temporary (but hardworking) harvest interns.