Rathfinny Wine Estate

Summer Cleaning

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The wines from our 2015 harvest have completed their second fermentation in bottle, and we have been put to rest in the cellar for a few years, until the wines develop the fantastic flavours from the yeasts autolysis (fresh bread, brioche, nutty).

One may think that with the most recent vintage put to rest that the winery must be silent. Alas, it is not: there is a lot of scrubbing, brushing, and squeegeeing going on to get the cellar in pristine condition. We typically go through this thorough cleaning of the winery over the summer months, during what we call our “down time”. We’ve methodically scrubbed every single square inch of the floor, which looks like new again. We’ve scrubbed so much, I think we should be able to join a curling team as sweepers.

Hygiene is key in winemaking to minimise risk of microbial contamination of wines in tank, which could result in off-flavours or otherwise adversely impact fermentation. Now that we’re done with the floors, the next step is the integral cleaning of the tanks. Of course, tanks are consistently cleaned throughout the year—in between each transfer of wine, in fact—but now we have the time to disassemble every single part from the tank (racking valves, tasting valves, side gauge…), in order to meticulously clean any and all surfaces that come into contact with the wine. It’s a tedious, and perhaps unglamorous, but necessary process. So, more tank scrubbing awaits us, but on a bit of a different scale than usual!

Once this is completed, we’ll be ready to receive and install our new Coquard press. The unit we currently use has a capacity of four tons, and the new one will be able to take eight tons. With increasing crop levels, it is a relief to know that we’ll be able to cope with higher daily tonnages during harvest even with a rather narrow window of picking time. For reference, last year we picked everything within eight days at the end of October.

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