Harvest is a bustling time of year in and around the winery, however in the months preceding I begin the careful process of hand selecting the very best fruit while it’s still on the vine. It is necessary for our vineyard crews to understand our high standards, and “drop” any berry clusters that are less desirable. Dropping fruit is a measure we take in both of our estate vineyards to ensure that only the best fruit is harvested.
(Left: No grape cluster is perfect. Right: Fruit clusters that do not meet our standards are cut off and dropped.)
(The diagram above corresponds with the following discussion points.)
A: Once the berries have been hand harvested and brought to the winery, they are gravity fed into a hopper.
B: Harvest workers examine each berry cluster on a sorting table, eliminating any clusters that are undesirable.
C: The clusters that make the grade travel up a conveyor belt and are gently gravity fed into destemming equipment.
D: Following the de-stemmer, the berries are optically sorted.
Cuvaison Estate Wines was one of the first, if not the first winery in the United States to employ the use of a Pellenc Optical Sorter. We use this highly tuned French technology for both Cuvaison Pinot Noir and Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
The optical sorter scans individual berries at a rate of 1000 berries per second, and rejects those that do not meet our stringent criteria. With its high accuracy, we have peace of mind knowing that only the finest fruit will make it into our wines.
The image above shows a comparison between berries that the optical sorter rejected (at left) and the berries that the optical sorter identified as keepers (at right).
Once the berries are optically sorted, they are pressed. Many wineries transfer the freshly pressed juice via a hose, however we believe this fresh and delicate product must be handled more gently. Therefore we gravity feed into stainless steel open top fermenters.