Picking Merlot in the Vineyard

Making Great Wine at Home

The winemaking process for Orange, NSW Merlot 2013.


Getting started

Given the short time frame, I had a couple of days to organise myself. This included winemaking equipment, chemicals and pickers. I decided on food grade plastic drums of 120L with sealable air-tight lids. This size also meant they were manageable for me to move around, well so I thought. The "garage" at home would be a courtyard in Paddington, making this a true garagistes or vin de garage



After a 4 hour drive from Sydney to Orange, we stayed the night to rest up before a big day of picking. First thing in the morning I headed out to De Salis Wines to meet Charlie and assess the grapes. As you can see from the photos the leaves had started to change and some of the grapes had started to shrivel. 

However, the good fruit was still in fantastic condition with beautiful fruit flavours, tannin and acidity. A testament to Charlie and Loretta's skill in the vineyard and Merlot being grown on a very cool site. Due to the grapes hanging on the vines weeks later than most, I knew this wine was going to be BIG. But hoped it would still have cool climate characters.

We tasted our way the fruit, very selectively picking. Reinforcing my belief that this would still produce a very good wine. Given that this was a last minute decision to kick off my solo winemaking career, I was very happy with what we were picking.

Whilst picking I also made the somewhat radical choice of making a whole-bunch Merlot. Crazy you might think? Well, we'll find out. Justification, lignification of the stems was advanced, whole-bunch tends to reduce the alcohol levels, add some interest and structure to a potentially over-ripe wine.