In the winery I make a big effort to make quality wines that are naturally tasty, complex and express the terroir and year in which they were made; and at the same time to care for the environment and my customers' health.
1. No Chemicals
Basically, what I do is NOT to add chemicals or substances to the must or wine. There are many chemical products which can legally be used to adulterate wine. It's possible (and even legal) to add sugar, water, acid, yeasts, artificial flavours, colourants, enzymes, bacteria, wood chips, and all sorts of substances that alter the wine only for aesthetic or commercial purposes, but I have chosen not to do this.
By default, I don’t even add sulphites to my wines, which is allowed by the European organic/ecological legislation. Most wineries (even organic ones) add some sulphites. It is used to kill bacteria, especially the vinegar producing ones, and to inhibit oxidization. I sometimes burn sulphur wicks in my stainless steel vats and oak casks after cleaning them. And sometimes I add sulphites at bottling, if (and only if) the buyer expressly asks me to do it; otherwise I don't add sulphites.
I don't have anything against the rational and sensible use of sulphur, and I'm not implying here that just because I don't use it, my wines are automatically 'better'. It's just that I don't see the point of using it if it's not needed.
On a few occasions I have added sulphur to my wines, when I thought that it was absolutely necessary.
2. Clean, clean, clean
I try to be very, very scrupulous about cleanliness and hygiene and I spend lots of time cleaning tools, materials, machinery, etc. It’s a great bore, but I believe that it has to be done, if you don’t want to use chemicals.
3. Winemaking processes
My winemaking processes are so simple and straight-forward that it almost seems pointless to write about them!
I take my quality white grapes to my clean winery and I crush the grapes using a clean manual crusher. Or crush them underfoot. I then pour the crushed grapes (pulp, pips, skins and stems) into a clean manual cage press using clean buckets. I press the grapes and I pour the must from the press into a clean stainless steel fermentation tank, again using buckets. When fermentation is finished (after about 2 or 3 weeks) I rack the wine off into another clean stainless steel tank. And that's it!
I don't buy in cultured industrial yeast. I just use the natural yeast(s) that are present in the vineyard and in the winery.
I take my quality red grapes into my clean winery and I crush the grapes using a clean manual destemmer-crusher. I then pour the crushed grapes (pulp, pips, skins and sometimes with stems and sometimes without the stems) into a clean stainless steel fermentation tank, using clean buckets. I let the wine ferment on the skins for a certain number of days, and punch the cap down manually a certain number of times a day. Then I press the wine off the skins using a clean manual cage press. I then pour the wine into a clean stainless steel tank, again using buckets. I rack the wine off once into another stainless steel tank. And that's it.
As in the case of our white wines, I don't buy in cultured industrial yeast. I just use the natural yeast(s) that are present in the vineyard and in the winery.
(Three years ago (2010) I also used an electric motor powered crusher, an electric pump, and a pneumatic press for a larger lot of Tempranillo (about 3000 kg). I configured the settings on the press to press as slowly and gently as possible so as to avoid all risk of crushing the pips, which are bitter and horrible!)
Exactly the same as for red wines, but using white grapes!
Using my young red wines, I fill clean oak barrels and leave them alone for a certain number of months, depending on the characteristics of the wine and the age of the barrel.
I like to experiment, so every year I do a few small lots slightly differently from as described above!