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A Steward of the Wine


A Steward of the Wine


It is a beautiful time around the vineyard as we dive into the fall season, with waves of colors spreading throughout the vines. We had two intense weeks of receiving grapes, but now that they are all in fermenters, we are at the less glamorous stage of harvest. It is fun and exciting when we are constantly picking grapes, but what happens after all the fruit is picked? Our days now consist of punch downs and pumpovers (more on that below), sampling and testing the wines for their Brix (sugar) levels.

Punch downs and pump overs are two techniques we use to manage the maceration process. As the grapes are fermenting, the solids (grape stems, seeds, pulp and skins) begin to rise to the top of the vessel creating a “cap.” To integrate the cap back into the wine, we use a steel or wooden rod to break up, mix, and submerge it down into the fermenter to make sure the wine properly develops its color and flavor profile.

When we pump over, the juice at the bottom of the fermenter is circulated and poured over the cap. This is a gentler way to submerge the cap, which creates more oxygen exposure for the natural yeasts, and allows the fermentation process to continue. Throughout this process, yeasts are consuming sugars from the juice and converting them into alcohol.

Everything we do during this stage is a balance of observing the wine, guiding the process, and making the best decisions for the fruit to develop. With this being our 15th harvest, I have gained experience in knowing this fruit, but I have learned that the decision to do nothing can be the decision to do something. I choose to not get in the way too much, but instead follow the lead of the fruit and let it go where it needs to go. This allows me to continue being a steward of the wine.

We are so pleased with the quality of fruit this vintage and we look forward to watching the wines flourish.


Brad McLeroy

Winemaker and Co-Owner, Ayres Vineyard & Winery

Winery NewsBrad McLeroy