IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GRAPE
Shelter Rock Winery purchases the finest grapes from vineyards in California. There are different varieties of grapes which you can choose to make the wine that suits your palate. Once we know the arrival date of the grapes, we contact SRW members to designate a date and time for crushing/ destemming of your grapes.
STEP 1 – THE CRUSH
DESTEMMING & CRUSHING
Crush dates and times will occur in early October. SRW members will come together at the winery and participate in loading the grapes into the Crusher/ Destemmer machine. The grapes go through the crusher/destemmer machine and fall into a fermentation tub placed under the machine. The stems and leaves are discarded into a separate waste bin.
STEP 2 – PRIMARY FERMENTATION
The crushed grapes, now called grape must, are kept in covered fermentation tubs in the main area of SRW. A day or so after the crushing, Wine Yeast is added to the must, and that begins the transformation of the natural sugars in the grapes into alcohol. Within 12 – 24 hours of adding the wine yeast, the fermentation activity begins.
Throughout the next two weeks the sugar levels are measured daily using a Hydrometer. Residual sugar and alcohol levels are related so the hydrometer helps determine the progress of the fermentation process. At SRW we aim for an alcohol level somewhere between 13% – 14.5% by volume, which is the expected result of California grapes we use. During this process the fermentation tubs are tightly covered so that nothing can contaminate the grape must. It creates an air-lock which allows the gases escape.
STEP 3 – PUNCHING
During the fermentation process, the grape must will rise and it is very important to release the gases caused by the fermentation process. This is called “punching” and is performed manually with a puncher tool. At SRW we will punch the grape must twice per day (once in the morning and once in the evening.) This process continues until the sugar level reaches -0.
SRW will hold two punching times per day. The first punching will be from 7:30AM–10:00AM and the second punching will be from 5:30PM–7:30PM daily. As many SRW members as possible should plan to stop by SRW throughout these two weeks to help in the punching process. We need as many members as possible to assist in this process. SRW Members Should Not Miss this Step!
STEP 4 – PRESSING & SECONDARY FERMENTATION
After the fermentation the wine is removed from the tubs and the grape must is pressed in the Pressing Machine. This is another step that is time consuming and as many members as possible should plan on helping. SRW Members Should Not Miss this Step!
The new wine is temporarily stored in stainless steel tanks and tubs to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom. This is called the first racking. The wine is then transferred to barrels where the Malolactic Fermentation occurs. MLF is a process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid.
STEP 5 – CLEARING & RACKING
After the fermentation has completely stopped and we have verified this by using the hydrometer, we may add a small amount of Potassium Bisulfite to help preserve the wine flavor and color while it’s clearing. The wine yeast will be finishing up its activity and the solids will be settling at the bottom. The clearing process can take several weeks and months.
In early February the second racking process begins. Each day from 10:00AM to 7:00PM we work on this process. As many SRW members as possible are needed to assist with this process. Be there! SRW Members Should Not Miss this Step!
STEP 6 – BOTTLING YOUR WINE
In JUNE it’s time to bottle!
Prior to bottling the wine is filtered and transferred to stainless steel tanks. This is where some of the blending of wines will occur as well. Bottling starts the first weekend in June from 9:00AM to 7:00PM. SRW members will be scheduled for a specific date and time for their bottling. Bottling your wine is a fairly straight forward process. The stainless steel tanks are attached to the Wine Dispensing Machine and the wine is dispensed into the bottles. The next station is the Corking Machine where you place your bottle on the Corking Machine, insert the cork and press down on the lever, pushing the cork into the bottle. The bottles then go to the Vinyl Capsule & Labeling Stations. Vinyl capsules are placed over the corked bottles and carefully placed in the Heat Machine, which shrinks the vinyl capsule to fit snuggly on the necks of the bottles. The next step is to place your pre-printed Wine Label on your bottles. Your bottles are then placed into boxes and are ready to take home to enjoy throughout the year, to give as gifts for holidays and special events, or to share with your friends and family.
Special Note: Since minimal sulfites are used in the wines we make at Shelter Rock Winery, we highly recommend storing your personal vintage in an area that has a consistent temperature of 55 – 62 ⁰F.