Ok, I forgot to keep posting during the fermentation - so a quick catch-up.
Brix was 24.9 on day 1 - after crush. It took about 9 days to get just below 0 brix. I was able to punch down the cap on my grapes a couple of times in that period. I spent a good deal of time at the winery between crush and press, learning the ropes and lending a hand where I could. It was really fun watching the other folks crush their grapes, however my group was definitely more picky about which grapes to keep. Without a second sorting table we had to be right the first time.
Ok, so now we've reached press time. I was curious about how the free run juice would taste, but after putting my nose on the cap the aromas were great. I picked up roasted coffee and chocolate - very pleasing to me!! We pumped the free run juice into a brand new bladder press, and then dumped the skins in. I ran a soft press so as to avoid harsh skin tannins. I really want my wine to be approachable on the front end and not need several years to "calm" down. So we pumped the juice into a holding tank allowing it to settle for about 12 hours. The next step was racking into the barrel.
I chose 100% new french oak, a DAMY barrel. The medium toast in the barrel has an amazing smell. It reminds me of my grandparents house when I was very young - aromas of old wood, varnish, pipe tobacco, and bonfires in the fall. I will start barrel tasting at about 4 months to determine when I need to rack into a neutral barrel. We started secondary fermentation or Malolactic in the barrel. This will change the harsh malic acid (think tart green apples) into the softer lactic acid (think silk or licking cotton) for better mouth-feel. Not sure how long the change will take.
I will add the pressing and racking pictures soon.