Follow along with winemaker Steve Beckmen as he describes what’s keeping him and the team busy in the winter months of 2019.
In the Vineyard
Winemaking is a cycle, and as we enter the new year the cycle continues with pruning all 150 acres of Beckmen grapevines. Our crew passes through the vineyard twice: once for the initial pre-prune of the canopy — clearing out the tall canes and brush — and second for the critical final prune cut. Pruning is a very important step as it sets up the crop size for the year ahead. For every one bud we leave behind, there will hopefully be a couple of clusters of grapes come spring. A lot of other factors will effect the crop size throughout the growing season, but this is the first step to set the stage for the 2019 vintage.
The grapevines may be bare and dormant, but our cover crops are growing beautifully due to the steady rain we received in the beginning of January. Every December, we plant an organic cover crop between the rows of grapevines as a natural way to feed and add nitrogen back into our soil. The crop is a mix of grass and legumes (climbing peas, vetch, and beans), which will continue to grow until they start to flower. Then, we will mow each row and run a disc to incorporate the beneficial, organic plant materials into the soil. The legumes have nitrogen fixing nodules on their root systems, improving the health of our soil in the most natural way possible.
In the Winery
We are gearing up for bottling season! A lot of work must happen before the wine goes into the bottle; we’re busy finishing blends (sometimes a blend of all one varietal, sometimes a blend of different varietals), emptying barrels, filling tanks, and finishing wines. We will be bottling different wines for two to three days every month for the next six months. Our wines are bottled via a mobile bottling line, so if you see a semi-truck parked next to the winery you know what we are up to!
Barrel management is also an important task during the winter months. We taste everything in barrel, making sure the wines are developing well as they age and mature. We check the secondary fermentation (malolactic fermentation, where malic acid is converted to lactic acid) which happens after the primary (alcohol) fermentation. This secondary fermentation enhances the texture and feel of the wine, adding a rounder, creamier quality. All of our red wines will go through this second step, while we inhibit it in most of our white wines.
Click here to learn more about the four wines released this quarter and watch Steve present each wine – how it was made, its flavors and aromas, surprising fun facts – for the very first time.
Want to see more of our videos? Check out the Beckmen Vineyards YouTube channel to view more videos from our winery and vineyard, as well as videos about our new wine releases.