As dead as the lees

This week has been exhausting. From moving, to coming down with a cold, to long days, to learning a lot, I have come home each night dead as the lees. Lees?

These are lees (kinda looks like baby poop). They are dead yeast and other wine sediments that precipitate out of the wine during fermentation. These lees, I believe, were from a Sauvignon Blanc. Our job here was to get as much sediment out of the tank as we could, and then powerwash and sanitize it to prepare the tank for a new batch of wine. We wanted to recover as many undiluted lees as possible, because with a specialized filter, we are able to recover some hundred gallons of wine. The filter uses diatomaceous earth, or DE for short, to filter the wine from the lees. The DE allows the wine to flow through, and leaves the sediment behind in cakes on the filter sheets. Anyways, after we cleaned most of the sediment out, Alison got in the tank and power washed it. I got to do this yesterday, and let me tell you, I like power washing!
Then we had to go through the sanitizing process. This starts with Caustic, a base, a cold rinse, Citric Acid, to neutralize the base, a cold rinse, and then Floquat, which I am told, is so strong that it is used in hospitals to kill HIV and herpes and the likes. Its nice to know that after a days work, not only am I clean, but I am completely sterile (kidding, it doesn’t work exactly like that). After all that cleaning and sterilizing, we got to do a really fun job: Barreling down the Chardonnay!

Here Alison and I are filling these oak barrels with Chardonnay from tank 11. We fed the barrels some enzymes first, then filled them to about 45 gallons each. The Bordeaux style barrels (long and lean) are capable of holding about 60 gallons, if I recall correctly. They need the extra room, because the Chardonnay will barrel ferment, producing a lot of extra CO2, which is why the extra space is needed. This took quite a while, but was really fun! This week’s agenda is going to be full of sorting red grapes by hand on the table, so I will leave you with these pictures to get you through to my next post.

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4 Responses to As dead as the lees

  1. Cecilia says:

    You are so cool…for real. Do they need another intern with no wine experience whatsoever? Because I would totally be down…

    • akcpanda says:

      Dude, none of us have experience. It is quite the adventure all around. I think you should definitely come to California!

  2. Mom says:

    Hey tootsie! So fun to see you filling barrels and cleaning! Can I get you to power wash the deck when you come home to visit?! WE miss you, and I think you should send your blog to the Medina Post! No one reads the Gazette 🙂

  3. Becka Kovein says:

    Hey girl you look great! I really admire you for following your dreams in life! How rare that someone can make a living doing something they truly love!! You look very happy! Keep up with the blog. I am really enjoying it and learning alot about my favorite beverage at the same time! Life is good! By the way……your hair looks great in all the pictures!! Take care Amanda!!

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