Pavle Prepares to Harvest the Grapes and Reveals the Blend

Categories: Wine

Can you guess what the blend is?

In this occasional series, Pavle Milic will spill about his current mission to learn how wine is made -- literally from the Southern Arizona ground up. Today: preparing for the harvest.

See also: Pavle Milic's Quest to Make Wine: A Quixotic Exploit?
See also: Pavle Prunes the Vines -- and Keeps an Eye out for Rattlesnakes

For the past two months I have been going down to the Dos Cabezas winery on an average of every other week. On one occasion, I walked into the winery and Todd Bostock, who runs the place, wasn't there. Patsy Cline's "Crazy" was playing on the speakers. I thought to myself: "Wow, this is nice and relaxing and romantic all at the same time."

This ethereal moment was brought to a screeching halt by Metallica's "Master of Puppets" right after; I must admit it made fell right at home. While the vines were growing and the grapes maturing, Todd has also been busy at the winery.

At the Winery
Todd has been moving wine from barrel to tank to separate the sediment from the wine. One of the tasks that I was given was to wash the barrels. The barrels are placed over a contraption that has a sprinkler-like faucet. The barrel sits on metal holders and the spigot goes in the bunghole (the small circular opening of a barrel). The spigot remains stationary but this apparatus lets you swivel the barrel. Once you turn on the water, this thick debris, red plaster or sediment begins to come out. You spin the barrel in both directions until the water that comes out is clear.

After this, further sanitation is required if the barrels are going to be used again . The barrels are treated with Proxyclean and an acid wash, made of citric acid and water. If the barrels are going to be stored, then they are dried and filled with sulphur gas.

Barrel Washer 3.jpg
Barrel Washer

Mainly, I tried to make myself available for whatever Todd needs. We focused on preparing tanks for wine. Again, sanitation is paramount. Todd is very careful to ensure that these vessels are properly sanitized. We also talked about the importance of checking every connection before the pump gets turned on to transport the wine from barrel to tank. "Always check every single connection, Pavle, make sure you double check everything always before you turn on the pump."

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