New Barrels! This year, in an effort to add greater complexity to our wines, we acquired a few new White Oak barrels. They are the traditional barrels used for aging wines around the world. We have almost 200 barrels in our inventory but we usually purchase just a few new barrels or some used barrels every year in order to retire barrels that have become neutral or too old. This year we bought almost 20 new French and American Oak Barrels. They will lend more chocolate, vanilla, and toasty caramel flavors and aromas to our wines while they help the wines age and mature.
A Brand New Crusher! After 10 years of loyal service we retired Old#1 to back up status to make way for this jewel. And, believe me, it can go through some grapes. It was kind of like moving from a 386 to Pentium 2; it definitely increased our "processing speed". This unit was made by the very nice people at Zambelli in Italy.
We also ordered, and ultimately received, 5 new stainless steel tanks for fermentation. These were also made in Italy. They hold about 2 tons of grapes each. They worked wonderfully with some of the last loads of grapes we harvested. They have adjustable height lids which help protect the wine from oxidation. However, the lids can be removed to allow full access for "punching down the cap" during the fermentation period. Another bonus was the dumping door for getting the skins into the press after the ferment. These tanks can be lifted directly over the press for a much more streamlined flow of skins, thereby greatly reducing the need for me to strain my back transferring skins from tank to bin and then from the bin into the press. Very helpful!
A New Press? Well, not really. But we gave it its bi-yearly overhaul. This time though, I ground all of the old paint off and refinished it with new food grade paint-in easy to clean "Battleship Grey". We also sanded the old seal coat off of the wood parts and gave it another 2 or 3 coats of FDA approved sealant. Ready to go for another 2 years or 200 tons, whichever comes first!