At the heart of wine-making lies the process of fermentation, a natural occurrence that sees live yeast cultures source energy by converting sugars into alcohol. Simply put, these tiny, living particles take a modest grape-juice, and elevate it to the complex and diverse delicacy we know as wine.
wild fermentation at witches falls winery
A freshly harvested grape already contains most of what is required to make wine. Sugar, to allow yeasts to produce enough alcohol to stabilize the wine; and acidity, to preserve and provide a fresh taste. Tannins, which exist within the skins of red grapes, can be used to make a wine bolder and more robust. What is arguably the most important element of a freshly harvested grape however, is its natural inoculum of indigenous yeasts.
stirring the lees for wild fermentation
One of wine-making’s most divisive areas, fermentation may be facilitated by either wild or commercially sourced yeasts. Each method imparts a separate and distinct influence upon the ways in which our wines can taste, smell, feel, and even look. These two divergent processes are defined by a complete reliance on what nature already provides, versus the expedience and consistency afforded by the addition of a commercial catalyst.
Natural yeasts produce an infinite variety of interesting textures and flavour compounds. As we like to say here, wild fermentation creates ‘wines with character’. Accordingly, you’ll find that our Wild Ferment range exhibits a complex and diverse flavour palette. What’s more, each of these wines will vary quite significantly between vintages, with each batch producing a fresh and unique flavour that distinguishes itself from its predecessor.
witches falls winemaking wild fermentation chardonnay
By contrast, our ‘co-inoculated’ wines incorporate the addition of active dried yeasts, a modernisation first popularised in the 1960s, as it removed the risks associated with relying solely on natural yeasts. Co-inoculation as we practise it, introduces two yeast strains, affording us greater control over our end product, as well as a much quicker, more efficient fermentation.
stainless steel fermentation