The Rudiments of Winemaking
Our vineyard crew harvests the wine grapes at night, picking under the radiant glow of giant light towers mounted to the tractors. When we arrive at the winery in the morning, the fruit is cold and fresh, waiting for us on the crush pad.
The first thing we do for all fruit, white or red, is weigh the grapes, which tells us how the vineyard is doing and guides us to the right fermenter size.
White grapes go immediately into a diaphragm press for about three hours to gently squeeze the berries. Adelaida does not destem the white grapes because the stems help with pressing.
When the pressing has finished, we transfer the juice into a chilled tank for 24 hours to settle and undergo a natural enzymatic browning reaction. After this, we will rack the juice from the brown sediment and pump it into barrels. Native yeast, present on the grape skins and in the air in the winery, ferments the grape sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The primary fermentation takes place in barrels and, depending on the variety, could range from zero to 20 percent new oak. We use wood barrels to ferment and age the wines because they promote a slow maturation and are the traditional vessel of choice. Once the wine has finished its primary fermentation, we allow secondary fermentation to occur. This natural process, carried out by native bacteria, converts the grapes’ tart malic acid into lactic acid, which enhances the wine's suppleness in the mid-palate while highlighting tartaric acid, which is the dominant acid in grapes.
At Adelaida, we allow the resident microflora to carry out the fermentations because that ensures that the wines taste distinctively of our vineyards. There is nothing more impactful to a great bottle of wine than respecting all the contributors that go into its making.
Because our vineyard crew is diligent in their farming practices throughout the season, our practice of sorting berry clusters once they arrive at the winery can be considered a little redundant, but we do it to ensure that every berry is as near-perfect as possible.
The red grapes are sorted based on cluster conditions. Once sorted, and depending on the variety, we either fully or partially destem and optically sort with a machine that rejects all but perfect berries.
The red grapes will ferment on their skins for up to two weeks in tanks made of wood, concrete, or stainless steel. As fermentation proceeds, the carbon dioxide that is released pushes the grape skins to the surface. We intentionally push the skins back down into the juice or pump juice over the skins to draw out color and tannin. Once dry—containing no more fermentable sugar—we transfer the new wine to the barrel, where the secondary fermentation occurs.
Our red wines age between fourteen and eighteen months in barrel. During this time, the color compounds will bind with the astringent compounds, which transforms the wine from a rustic personality to one that is soft and elegant.