There are chores that need to be done regularly whether life is hectic or not, but when things are calm, a great amount of pleasure, knowledge and calm can come from completing these same tasks that forever linger on our “to do” list.
About every three to four weeks we top off the barrels and about 3 times a year, we rack. Topping is exactly what it sounds like- we make sure that any of the wine that has been soaked up by the wood in barrels or that has evaporated, is filled to the top of the barrel so as to prevent oxidation, which leads to vinegar (think the bottle you opened and put in the fridge 3 weeks ago).
Racking is where you vacuum out the top 9/10ths of a barrel’s wine contents and leave the last bit. You flip the barrel over and wash it with a sprinkler system we like to call, in enological jargon, a “barrel washer.” A good analogy I like to use is if you think about your coffee cup at the beginning of the morning, it looks pretty well mixed up. But by the end of the morning, you can tell the bitter dregs have fallen to the bottom of the mug. This is what we are taking out of the equation. It’s like reverse skimming.
These are the simple but necessary tasks that you can catch us doing throughout the year, but especially enjoying during months like these, when you have the peace of mind to smell each barrel as you go, topping, wiping, breathing, rinsing, flipping and attending.