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Dawnine Dyer
October 22, 2012 | Dawnine Dyer

The Art of the Cold Soak

Looking out the window this morning at our rather soggy vineyard, we’re so grateful that our harvest is over and the grapes are safely in the barn, so to speak.

The fruit is so amazingly clean this year - with very few raisins, no sunburn, no mold and uniformly brown (mature) seeds - that we can do a nice, long cold soak. This technique is a favorite among the tricks in our bag that helps us get a jump start on the extraction of color, flavor and the right kinds of tannins – the supple ones from the grape skins.

You can think of the cold soak as sun tea vs. tea made with hot water. You get the full flavor without the bitter tannins. For us, different phenolic compounds (tannin is a polyphenol) are extracted from the skins and seeds at different temperatures and different alcoholic concentrations. 

So, as the grapes were destemmed, we blanketed them with dry ice (the solid form of carbon dioxide) to get them cooled down to below 50 degrees. This creates a very inhospitable environment for yeast and delays the onset of fermentation (it also protects the fresh juice from oxidation.) And, the low temperature and lack of alcohol in the solution allows us to get a lovely extraction of everything we want - color, flavor and texture - and virtually nothing we don’t want.

So, we're off to a great start and just loving the 2012 vintage! It seems to be one of those rare years when we can have it all! Next up, we’ll take a walk on the wild side and talk a little about yeast, wild yeast and mixed cultures. Cheers!


Jon LeBars's Gravatar
Jon LeBars
@ Oct 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM
So, how do you know the amount of dry ice to put ontop of the must. Say for a 5lb bucket? :)

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