Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Direct From Hadsten House In Solvang, CA: Day Four Part One: October 8th: Hadsten House Spa Therapy and Terravent

"Adventures In Wine Country" with Co-Hosts Chuck Byers and Greg Rist is a new series airing in April 2010 on CHEX Television 12 Durham and the Greater Toronto Area.

More Solvang Shots
Both Greg and I are early risers. It was nothing for us to get up at dusk and work. Today was no different. I was up at 3 AM to finish my blog and both of us were out and about at around 7:30 AM. A good breakfast and we were ready to move on the show. Greg began his day with the hard work of filming massage therapy session at the Hadsten House Spa. Lovely girl, getting a massage-----someone had to do it and Greg was the man for he job!
He also got a facial complete with grape seed therapy administered to him. Whether it worked on him or not, it made for some great filming and you will see the results either on one of his published pictures or on the show when it airs.
Terravent Visit
We had already visited Terravent on October 6th and learned that this "Crush Facility" was open to many smaller and mid range wineries that did not have access to the equipment that was needed to fully produce quality wines. The fact that the process could be totally handled by the winemaker of each respective winery is bonus and made this type of winery facility stand out. If the winery wanted to, it could have allowed Terravent's own directing winemaker to take charge of the process. The machines that Terravent had to make good wines seem to certainly stack the odds on Terravent making some very good wines.
Director of Winemaking Allan Phillips a former rugby player for Wales International, has over 30 years experience in the field, working for over 10 years for Foly and Lincourt Wines now in charge of a winemaking operation that he said is second to none in equipment and design in California. Terravent had the capability of providing a full service to premium wineries from custom crush to custom bottling and right to custom tasting in the new tasting room.
It was amazing to see the numerous amounts of containers filled to the brim with grapes such as Chardonnay and/or Syrah brought in on huge tractor trailers or even by pick up trucks and placed into the destemmer crusher and then into the huge "rotating bladder press" which brought forth the juice ready for fermentation.
The large number of stainless steel vats were ready to take the wine and ferment. Each one had a large flat, circular shaped utensil which "punched down" the floating grape "cap" (the CO2 which formed during the fermentation would make the grape cap lighter than the surrounding must and float it up. The puncher would push the cap down to allow the skins to have more contact with the fermenting juice and thus extract more colour and tannin.)
Then, there were the very special machines that many wineries did not have. While Terravent does have the normal types of filtration (pads, Diatomaceous Earth) styles it also has some very unique alternative styles.
While some will argue that mechanical intervention may harm wines, Terravent had a machine that can filter without damage. It could even save wines that have bacterial taint or smoke damage. What it did is to take the tainted and/or smokey liquid and bring it back to a drinkable form. The machine that does this is called Memstar which not only could remove taint, smoke damage or even alcohol from wine.
It would work this way: the tainted/smokey material is circulated through a reverse osmosis system. The permeate flow is then separated from the wine by Memstar RO.
This flow is then passed through an adsorbent medium such as activated charcoal or similar things. The result would be wine that that is free from bacterial taint that would otherwise be thrown out.
Wine can also be de-alcoholized using this method. Wine in certain areas were naturally high in alcohol and needed to reduce it by a degree or so. This machine made it so!
Terravent also had a unique filtration "cross flow filtration" system that used a hollow fibre in removes all types of suspended contaminants from the system. Capillary movement in an inert membrane provided clarification without the use of filter aids or any physical or chemical component. The machine had many advantages including: economical energy use, low wine treatment time, negligible temperature variance, no other mechanical interventions needed and a little risk of damage to wine.
The result is that the product produced is a wine that is full of its natural tastes and qualities without the worries of influences that could harm it.
Tasting Room
The new tasting room was certainly impressive with examples of all the wines made at the facility as well as "state of the art" dispensing equipment which allowed those interested to have a tiny taste or get a glass of the chosen product. Argon gas automatically replaced air after each wine with drawl from any one of the many bottles on display. This kept the remaining liquid fresh and ready for use. A card issued by the front counter allowed for one or many tastings and recorded each tasting as one went on the "sampling journey".
Terravent's concept of a "Community Crush" was indeed and will be indeed, a saviour to many wineries who just do not and/or cannot have the means to obtain advanced wine making equipment. Whether one needs twenty cases or two thousand, Terravent will be there.