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Albariño and scrubbing floors

One of my favorite grape varieties to work with is Albariño. Hailing from Spain and Portugal, Albariño is ideal for the Mid-Atlantic region for several reasons. Perhaps the best reason is that the name doesn't scare customers. How many Virginians still can't pronounce Viognier? Albariño however, is fun and exotic to pronounce. It's easy to grow; it has loose clusters that allow for air flow and spray penetration. It ripens relatively early; I've harvested it as early as the last week of August and as late as the second week of September. It also happens to make excellent wine. It's receptive to style direction in the cellar (i.e. barrel age or Vinho Verde). It retains acid through full ripeness. What's not to like? There's one little thing - low cluster count and weight in the vineyard. But you'll also likely never lose any to rot either. Every winery in the region should be growing this variety.

The photos below show several of the early production stages of this year's Albariño production: harvest, pressing, and racking the clarified juice off the settled grape solids before being pumped to stainless steel barrels for fermentation. Take a look at the interior tank photo. It shows my using a barrel racking wand to rack (decant) clarified juice off the sediment. A proper settling (like this one) has a clear distinction between the clarified juice and the sediment.

Lastly, one very important aspect of winemaking that often gets overlooked is the view of the cellar. Making wine involves long hours looking at the same four walls and floor. It might as well be pretty to look at. There is a kind of mold that grows in winery cellars and barrel rooms. It's black, slimy, and smells not pleasant. It's carbon source is ethanol and so is found in every winery cellar in the world. Fortunately it comes off rather easily with a pressure washer. Once this is done winery concrete floors are often then scrubbed with a strong oxidizing chemical called sodium percarbonate. It's the active ingredient in OxiClean. It bleaches and sanitizes surfaces. It's not a poison either, so it's safe in food production facilities.

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