Helvetia Winery Pinot Noir Grapes Just before Fall Harvest

Thanksgiving has special meaning for our winery as well as for wineries throughout the United States. It truly marks a time of thanks and celebration as a new wine vintage settles down for the winter.

Unlike most farming operations, harvest is only the beginning of the end of the growing season at a winery that grows its own fruit. Following harvest, the grapes used for white wines are pressed and the juice is allowed to settle before yeast is added.

Fermentation then begins, converting sugar to alcohol and the juice to a wine preserved from spoilage by its acidity and alcohol. For red wines, the grapes are crushed and the juice ferments on the skins with the pulp and seeds for up to three weeks extracting colors and flavors. At some time before or during the fermentation process, last year’s wine is moved from barrel to bottle or another container in order to free up space to cellar the new wines.

Inside the Helvetia Winery

Our Tranquil Winery

Towards the middle of November (2011 being an exception), active fermentation has either halted or slowed to the point where the wine is still and the winery is quiet except, perhaps, for the dull pop of a bung sent to the ceiling by the yeasts’ last gasps.

By Thanksgiving, we of the wine business move out of the cellar to the lights of the holidays where we can greet our guests with wine released from the cellar, news of the vintage and prospects for the upcoming year. We look forward to welcoming you to our tasting room, and sharing our bounty with you. This year’s releases include 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, 2014 Gewurztraminer, and 2014 Chardonnay. 2014 was the warmest year of the decade and the fruit was ripe yielding intense fruit but not quite the complexity that comes from a cool year’s hangtime because the ripening period was shorter than in cooler years.