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The winemaking philosophy at Abacela begins in the vineyard. Our foremost goal is to preserve the fruit character and quality from the vineyard, to the winery, to the bottle, to the consumer. Secondly, we eagerly strive for consistent quality across varietals and vintages with a focus on the future. Third, we make every effort to be consistent in our stylistic goals of creating big, age worthy reds and crisp, refreshing whites.
PrinciplesOur philosophy shapes the five principles that guide our winemaking.
Abacela’s winemaking practices started with the basic logistical issue that all wineries must tackle. That is, how to transport tons of grapes into, throughout, and around the winery until the desired end product (wine) is obtained. There are only two ways to accomplish this task: 1.) Mechanically liquefy (crush) the fruit and pump the resulting must (crush and pump method), or 2.) Move the intact berries with the aide of gravity and avoid pumping (Gravity Flow method). The processes are very different.
Crush and Pump Method
Following this technique the grapes are crushed into a must, i.e. liquefied and moved in the fluid state using a pump. While this method is efficient and economical it does pose two serious disadvantages. First, the crushing process smashes the skins, pulp, and most importantly the seeds, which when broken can release extremely bitter tasting chemical compounds into the liquid. Second, the pumping action causes further shearing and tearing of skins and seeds and most importantly compresses oxygen into the liquid thus facilitating potentially undesirable aerobic microbial activity and premature oxidative degradation. Almost all large commercial wineries use this method.
Gravity Flow Method
This technique requires harnessing the naturally occurring and ever present force of gravity to assist in processing and movement of the delicate fruit. With gravity, intact grapes are transferred from picking bin to destemmer, fermenter, and press by gently pouring the fruit from one container to another. The must is created naturally, albeit very slowly by using the yeast’s fermentative process to soften and eventually “liquefy” the fruit.
This method is very labor intensive as well as time consuming, but offers three significant major advantages. 1.) Using gravity provides for incomparable flexibility in fermentation style (whole clusters, whole berries, partially crushed berries, or completely crushed berries and combinations thereof). 2.) Whole berry fermentation (WBF) is practical. This complicated anaerobic fermentative process enhances certain fruit aromatics and creates a more supple texture by limiting extraction of seed-bound compounds both during and after fermentation. 3.) Cold soaking (CS) becomes practical. This 4-7 day anaerobic process softens the intact grape skin and allows for a gentle, aqueous (alcohol-free) extraction and stabilization of skin-bound compounds that contribute to color, aroma, flavor and texture. Gravity flow wineries are often constructed as multiple-level buildings in which processing begins on the top level and concludes on the bottom level.
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