Once we’ve done the labor of picking the fruit through the long night, it’s time for the “little workers” to begin their very important job of turning that fruit into wine. Yeast have been doing this kind of thing on their own for a very long time, whether it be with grains, fruit, any kind of vegetative matter, a process known as fermentation. In most cases, when making wine (or beer or bread), to get a consistent product, you want to be able to control what the yeast is doing to a degree, which is something we do at Naggiar- partially (explanation to come).
Fermentation, in terms of the wine industry, happens when elements from the yeast react with the sugars in the fruit to turn that sugar into alcohol. As I’ve explained it, it seems such a simple process, but a lot of things can go wrong. If the fermentation gets too hot too quickly or not enough nutrients are present, you can end up with a “stuck fermentation” which is pretty much as bad as it sounds. If the yeast stress (yes, these little guys get stressed, too) due to temperature, alcohol, or nutrient deficiencies, or worst of all, un-sanitized conditions, you can end up with a bad-sulfide production which gives the wine an eau-de-barnyard aroma.
So, there are quite a few tricky areas to navigate during fermentation, and here is where the “partially-controlled” fermentation that I mentioned above comes in. At Naggiar, we allow ALL of our fermentations to start with the indigenous yeast that is present on the grapes. We start our fermentation with the yeast coming in from the vineyard and, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. It’s a fine line to tread and keeps everyone on their toes, but it also allows us to separate our wines from everyone else. These are yeast from our vineyard and our winery, our personal little workers, totally unique to one degree or another, helping to make Naggiar a world-class wine.
So, come to Naggiar and raise a glass of your favorite Naggiar wine in a toast to our little workers, the yeast, who work so hard to transfer juice of the grapes into nectar of the gods.
Continuing with the theme of seasonal workers, in two weeks I’ll be doing a feature on a trio that work for nothing but the pursuit of knowledge and training- our seasonal interns. In the meantime, next week, I’ll have my own “intern” in the form of Kathryn Freeman, who will be an occasional featured writer for the blog. The intern moniker is just in jest as Kathryn is the very accomplished writer of the weekly emails, just one way among the other countless ways she contributes to the Naggiar experience.