Third Vintage in Qvevri

In early October we had an offer to harvest Vidal grapes at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware. Vidal was one of the white grape varieties that I had wanted to try in our qvevri. Previous vintages includes Muscat from Lodi and Rkatsiteli from Central Virginia. We did not harvest those grapes. Jason Hopwood, vineyard manager and assistant winemaker at Harvest Ridge let me know when the Vidal was ready to harvest. On October 3rd, Kathy and I drove the 90-minute trip to the Eastern Shore and had a wonderful time picking Vidal grapes in the vineyard.

Sorting while picking

We sorted while harvesting. Kathy worked one side of a row while I worked the same row on the other side. Of course we tasted the grapes. They were sweet with floral tastes. Harvesting was also quite sticky. It did not take long to fill a couple containers and whisk them off to our home. This was a long day. By late afternoon we started to hand destem and gently crush the grapes. A couple hours later, we added 2.5 gallons of juice and two gallons of skins and seeds to the qvevri.

I reserved one cup of juice to pitch the yeast. I sprinkled one teaspoon of Aroma White yeast on top of the juice and waited 30 minutes. During that time I measured the specific gravity of the juice, 1.095. This potentially will make a wine with around 13% alcohol. I added the yeast to the qvevri and placed a temporary lid with an air lock over the opening. On the 4th of October I punched down three times. This was consistent for the next few days. By the 13th, fermentation was completed and the qvevri was sealed with the temporary lid.

Fermentation of Vidal in a qvevri

By early December, I tasted the wine. It had a floral aroma, velvety mouthfeel with some hints of flowers and yellow stone fruit. After the tasting, I sealed the qvevri with a permanent glass top, one without an airlock. About eight inches of sand covered the qvevri. Then a marble slab covered the sand. I placed a tarp over the area. Our winter has mostly been mild through the middle of January. Although it has been below freezing for several days in a row, many more of the days had above average temperatures. We plan to uncover the qvevri and rack the wine in March or April depending on the weather.


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