We picked the Cabernet Sauvignon on 24th March.
This was a week earlier than planned but the weather forecast for that coming week was for substantial rain every day (which didn't eventuate in our local area but to the north) so we 'bit the bullet'. The co driver and I got through the rows in about four hours. The yield was about average.
Fruit was in excellent condition. No sign of any disease, a little sunburn on the more exposed bunches and some shrivel in the bunches at the shallower ends of the rows as we have had little rain in the last month.
Baume 12.5° (acceptable)
pH 3.75 (good)
The grapes were immediately crushed/destemmed and DAP (15g/hL), tartaric acid (1g/L) then yeast (20g/hL) added.
The yeast is rehydrated in ten times its volume of water at 40°C for 20 minutes. A little sugar is added to 'get the culture going'. This mixture is then dispersed and thoroughly mixed into the must (juice plus skins).
Fermentation began within 12 hours.
From then it will be the usual process ie. plunging the cap down every 6 hours or so until fermentation is finished (5-7 days), some post fermentation maceration to optimize colour and tannin extraction (a week), pressing, fining (egg white), racking and eventual bottling.
Normally we use oak staves in the ferment and during maturation to impart oak character to red wine.
This year we are revisiting the use of a very concentrated oak powder which is added towards the end of the maturation phase. Our previous experience with this method was not entirely successful but armed with more information on the process we thought we would try again. It is certainly cheaper and easier in a vin de garage operation.
Meanwhile the previously processed Semillon will soon be ready for filtering and bottling and the Pinot/Tempranillo blend will spend another 9 months or so in the tank "doing its thing" before we bottle.