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Preparing the Winery for Crush

Santiago Achával is keeping the Achával-Ferrer winery stafff busy with harvest preparations.
2009 Southern Harvest Winemakers
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Posted: Feb 18, 2009 11:10am ET

By Santiago Achával

Posted by Santiago Achával

At this time of the year, the vineyards are almost taking care of themselves. We’ve done all we can. We’ve thinned the shoots, removed the laterals and plucked the leaves from the fruit zone. We’ve done deficit irrigation. We’ve green harvested. We’re done!

All we can do now is make sure that the vines don’t go into acute stress by making sure they have a little water. Stress is bad (it leads to unripe tannins) but comfort is also bad (it leads to dilute grapes), so we like to keep the vines on the lower end of the comfort zone.

Contractors help bottle the Achával-Ferrer Malbec Mendoza 2008.
So what do we do while we munch grapes and take samples? (Other than looking at the horizon, the forecast and the satellite pictures of cloud-top temperatures?) We get the winery ready. We send the destemmer and the pumps to maintenance shops. We call the press guys in to take it apart and put it back together again. We buy supplies such as yeast hulls and DAP (diammonium phosphate, which is a yeast nutrient that contains fermentable nitrogen for the development of healthy new yeast cells).

And we bottle whatever is ready to go into the bottle. That frees up barrel space and tank space. That gets something done that needs doing—and that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do until the 2009 harvest is in barrel. Here's a picture of the contract bottler’s truck as they work on our 2008 Mendoza Malbec.

Freshly bottled cases of wine are stacked upright for about a week.
It’s a good moment in a winery team’s life! There’s no more danger for the wine. In a few months it’ll be ready to ship, so we stack the bottles upright for a week or so until the cork adjusts to the bottleneck. And then we take it to the basement and turn the bottles upside down.

After this comes cleaning. Obsessive, neurotic, repetitive cleaning. After all, those grapes out there are invited to a fermentation party! And we want them to come into our house and be proud of it.

So keep your fingers crossed! You’ve done a great job with the weather since my last post. Don’t ruin it now!

Un abrazo from the vineyards,


Serge Laporte
Canada —  February 18, 2009 2:14pm ET
Santiago:)Thanks for your insightful and thoughtful comments and your savvy approach to winemaking, I love your wines, they are very popular and appreciated here in Quebec, Canada. Continued success. Cheers

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