Friday, May 6, 2011

Lab Work

I sometimes think a lot of folk get the impression that wine is all about growing the grapes in the vineyard and then converting them to wine in the winery. That is true to a large extent, as is the reality that the making of a great wine comes down to the creative talents of the winemaker. There are no formulas to follow slavishly, unless you are one of the big producers who are looking for the same basic wine year after year.

But there are a lot of technical things small wineries can do to help ensure we make a good wine and avoid risks. At Murdoch James Estate we have a small laboratory where we test sample from the vineyard before harvest to check sugar levels, and during ferments to track the conversion of those sugars to alcohol. We also test for things like acidity. This technical detail is then paired with winemaker Carl's judgement and palate to deliver the final wine.

For the vintage Maria, our Administration Assistant, worked with Carl in the winery over vintage to help with processing, plunging and pressing. But she also did most of the lab work; a very important task she completed with skill.

This year's grapes are now in, and nearly all the ferments are complete. It has been a lovely harvest and the Pinot Noir should be excellent this year. Fine weather made harvest a breeze, and the teamwork was terrific. Now the vineyard looks a treat as the autumn colours are coming out. In fact, when I was driving into work this morning, the poplars at the gate were stunning and I had to take a photo - not a bad place to work is it!!??