Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Yeast Girl

When I said I was looking forward to my role as a 'yeast girl' I hadn't quite anticipated just how smelly the stuff can be when it dies.

One of my jobs today involved transferring some Chardonnay that had been sitting in a tank for 1 year after fermentation. When it sits for this long, a large buildup of solids (lees) including dead yeast cells, tartaric acid and bentonite (clay) builds up at the bottom of the tanks as everything settles out of solution. 

The photo to the right shows the inside if the tank after it was drained. The wood is a stack of 'oak staves' used for imparting the lovely aromas of oak into a wine in a more cost-effective manner than storing  in a barrel. You can see the buildup of lees all over the staves and the thick layer on the bottom of the tank.

I stupidly volunteered to hose out the tank, which resulted in a wonderful half hour inhaling the funky, off-bread and bitter scents.  I started to imagine that what I was hosing looked like vomit... Definitely wasn't feeling like a glass of wine at that point in time!

And then it got even better.  We had to get in the tank and remove all the staves. This is what I ended up looking like: 

Despite how I have described this job, I actually enjoyed it.
So here's to being a 'yeast girl'!!