Video: Whole Cluster Fermentation

The full interview with Adam:

Creative Director Anna Campbell interviews her brother, winemaker/owner Adam Campbell about delestage, whole cluster, and the connections between the two…

Anna Campbell: So Adam, why do we do delestage? Can you tell me what the heck delestage is?

Adam Campbell: Delestage is a French term for taking off most of the juice out of a fermenting tank and returning it to the top. We do a modified version here at Elk Cove where we pull off two or three bins of juice from a given fermentor, and then I’ll use the forklift to dump the juice back over the top to flood the cap with fresh wine. It’s a great way to give that fermentor a little breath of fresh air and get the juice in contact with the skins.

Anna Campbell: And what does that have to do with whole cluster?

Adam Campbell: Well, we love doing whole cluster, especially from vineyards like our Goodrich Vineyard. It just really adds a spicy complexity to the wine. Not all of the fermentations we do from Goodrich we do whole cluster, but we do about half and then we can choose later how much of that percentage ends up in the final glass.

Anna Campbell: And why do you do delestage for whole cluster? What’s the connection between the two?

Adam Campbell: So when we do whole cluster, we want to be really careful about disturbing the skins of those whole clusters in the fermentor. All the good stuff is in the skins, but the whole point of a whole cluster is to have what we call carbonic maceration, which is essentially a fermentation inside the grape. (It) lends a real fruitiness to the wine and then because it’s whole cluster, that’s balanced with the spicy kind of complex tannins you get from the stems as well.

Anna Campbell: And how hard is it to drive the forklift while doing this?

Adam Campbell: The forklift is a skill that I’m reminded every year not everybody has the knack for it, but I guess I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. It’s like driving a car, but I think you do have to know where you’re going and have the confidence to be able to do it in a fast, but safe way.

Anna Campbell: Like driving a car while lugging a swimming pool 10 feet in the air.

Adam Campbell: Yeah. Well, you look at a bin of grapes, each bin of grapes, that’s a lot of money and a lot of effort and love that we put into it, so we’re really careful on the forklift. No grapes left behind.

Anna Campbell: So complete honesty, how’d you do the first time you poured over a full bin of juice?

Adam Campbell: The first time I did that delestage where I’ll dump over into the fermentor from a bin, I think I probably lost 20 to 30% of it. So you have to have a knack for it and really aim well. So between myself and José and Heather, those are the only three people that we have do a delestage.

Anna Campbell: Awesome. Well, any last thoughts on Goodrich or whole cluster or delestage to share? Did we miss anything? I think it’s great.

Adam Campbell: Yeah.