Barrel Fermenting Grapes

Byron winemaker Jonathan Nagy takes us into the barrel room where the recently harvested grapes are fermenting.

While most wine grapes are fermented in steel tanks, then sometimes stored in barrels, their best grapes are treated differently to bring out unique characteristics in their wines.

Over time, you begin to realize there are certain sections of the vineyard that are really, really good, and so you start farming those sections in such a way that you’re really farming for quality, and you’re pushing it to the extreme of quality.

And then when you bring it into the winery, you already know that that lot, year in and year out, has been one of your best lots, and then you can treat it differently. It can go into the smaller orchard bins, or it can go… we can barrel ferment it.

I mean, we wouldn’t do this for everything, but we do this for a block that we know is super high-end. And the other thing is too, we actually barrel ferment. So here we have grapes in barrels, and so this is super labor-intensive, but what happens is when the grapes ferment, they extract out from the barrel, and it integrates into the wine as it’s fermenting, and it makes for something that has a lot of body, it has a lot of depth. And so it makes for a pretty special wine.

So we do choose to do barrel fermentations for like I said, some of our higher-end blends. And yeah, it’s super labor intensive. So there’s .2 tons worth of grapes in each barrel. And then what’ll happen is when we press that off, we’ll put the barrel heads back on, and fill the same barrels that we ferment it in, and that wine will age in the same barrel that it fermented in, so it really makes for something cool and special.