So what’s next for wine making at Salado Winery Company? We’ve fermented the 2014 harvest, pressed the wine out of it and now we’re doing the first racking. What’s racking? Essentially we are siphoning the wine OFF of the gunk. Lots of bits and pieces were missed by the first rough filtration that we did as the wine came out of the press. Also sediment is formed from the proteins in the grapes, that and other molecules join together and fall out of suspension. If you look closely at my picture, you can see in the glass carboy the sediment that has fallen to the bottom.
The biggest contributor to the junk on the bottom is dying yeast cells. As fermentation ends, all the sugar has been consumed and the yeast dies. The last remaining yeast release enzymes to break down anything left to eat–basically the dead yeast cells on the bottom. Well the biologists call this “autolysis” and for us wine drinkers, that can mean that the broken down yeast produces off flavors, or in other ways, breaks down our wine and we don’t want that! Finally, racking helps to clarify the wine, or in other words, it helps the wine look more clear.
After we remove the yucky part, then there is space left in the container. That means we have to “top off” all the containers and that is exactly what is happening in this picture. This is a gravity siphon and the good wine in the upper part of the carboy is being removed from the gunk in the lower part. The wine is being used to fill up the barrel below.
The concept is simple, but this process has been quite time-consuming this year due to the large harvest. I am not complaining though, it is far better to have too much blessing than too little!