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 fermenter, 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 fermenter 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 fermenter 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.