Winter in an Okanagan Falls Winery - In the Cellar
The majority of the post harvest work has been completed. Fermentation has taken place in either barrel or tank and now the wines are aging, waiting to be bottled and later consumed. Many of the wines particularly the reds go through malolactic fermentation during this time. The barrels containing the wine that is fermenting need to be monitored on an ongoing basis to make sure the malolactic fermentation is taking place.
Another task of the cellar staff is barrel topping and stirring. Throughout the winter over time evaporation will take place in the barrels. These barrels need to be topped up every week or two with the same wine to keep oxidation from occurring. Sometimes this can be as much as 6 litres per 228 litre barrel over a 1 to 1 1/2 month time frame. At the end of fermentation, on a weekly or bi weekly basis the white wines are stirred which is called batonnage. This stirring of the wine makes yeast particles in the wine called lees fall through the wine preventing oxidation. Another benefit of stirring the lees in a wine is the creation of a creaminess in the mouth feel of the wine. Photo below of our assistant winemaker Felix Korb.
In addition to barrel topping and stirring, SO2 or potassium metabisulfite is added in appropriate amounts in late fall or early winter. This starts when the whites finish fermentation and happens later with the reds as they have to go through malolactic fermentation prior to the addition of SO2. SO2 is added to the wine for antioxidant and antimicrobial purposes.
Finally we have quite a bit of work to do every winter with our sparkling wine production. The sparkling wine that has finished its primary fermentation from the current vintage are blended in tank to create our NV Brut, and our three vintage cuvees Brut Rose, Reserve Brut and Blanc de Blancs. The wine is then cold stabilized, gently filtered, inoculated with yeast and bottled to start the secondary fermentation process in the bottle. For more information on sparkling wine see our video