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Mark McKenna
 
November 24, 2012 | Mark McKenna

Fall Colors

  

In many ways the end of harvest can be just as surprising as the beginning. After running for months thinking day and night about grapes in various states of ripening and fermentation, the crushpad suddenly gets quieter, the days get shorter, and the seasons turn (as they always do) to a new phase. But each turn of the seasons has its unique attributes to look forward to. The surroundings change, as does the work, as does the weather. The end of harvest and the turning of Fall to Winter brings with it the most striking colors of the year. And not just in the vineyards where the leaves turn into a riot of reds and yellows, but even in the winery itself.

One of the things we need to keep an eye on after the wines have gone to barrel is the progress of the Malolactic Fermentations. Where the primary fermentations are generally completed in a matter of weeks, malolactic can last months before struggling to a finish. We test their progress using a technique called paper chromatography. The resulting patterns are both informative and beautiful. For the months ahead we will taste and test our new wines, thinking about what they want and how to coax the very best from what harvest has given us. As the leaves fall we will do more chromatography, watching the wines evolve and enjoying the beautiful mixture of art and science that is winemaking. In a world defined by rushing about, taking time to notice the profound beauty that surrounds us every day here in Amador is one of the best parts of living a life among the vines.

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