A Day in the Life of the Vine Cliff Enologist

A Day in the Life of the Vine Cliff Enologist
We asked Adam Craig to document for us a day in the life of the Vine Cliff Enologist, especially during Harvest season.

Thursday, August 30th, 2017

This past week, I mainly performed Quality Control Checks on the 2016 and 2015 lots still in barrel. Using the Flash Titrator from SteroGlass I determined the FSO2 and TSO2 (Free Sulfur and Total Sulfur) Content in each wine. And as it IS harvest, I was still using the centrifuge to clear up some grape analysis to determine their pH and TA (Titratable Acidity) levels.

Today I will be performing juice analysis on the Chardonnay blocks pressed this week as well as finalizing the analysis on the 2016 Wine Lots.

For Juice, within 24-36 hours of being pressed, samples are taken of the juice and analysis is performed to determine its starting levels in each of the following categories: Brix (Sugar content), pH, TA (Titratable Acidity), ML (L-Malic Acid), VA/AA (Volatile Acid/Acetic Acid), PAN (Nitrogen through its Primary Amino Acid), and AN (Ammonia).

All samples are first centrifuged down, then separated to their respective sections for analysis. Like cooking a meal, some tests take longer and some require more constant attention than the others; so some tests can be done at the same time while other tests you concentrate solely on.

The spectrophotometer with cuvettes, samples, and Eppendorf pipettes, and testing kits; all required to perform all the enzymatic testing (AN, PAN, ML, AA).

The centrifuge in use with its samples sitting next to it waiting to go in.

The refractometer which is used to measure the Brix.

The Flash titrator prepped and calibrated for the pH and TA analysis.

 For the 2016 wine, I will be performing just AA checks as we are getting ready to perform some topping of the barrels next week.

And of course like any other job, and especially an Enologist in harvest – paperwork is abundant. The end of the month is gone, so I have work orders to complete as well as prepare tracking charts to start measuring daily Brix levels on those lots fermenting now. And of course, record all analysis I am about to obtain in today’s tests.

Life in the lab during a Vine Cliff Harvest is always more work than time, but it can be a fun rewarding experience.