Happening now in the winery...
Cryo-Maceration – Cryo or CM for short – is a technique we use to improve the extraction of color, flavor, and tannin from the skins of red grapes. Freshly harvested grapes are destemmed, put in half-ton bins, and then taken to the freezer. As the grapes freeze, large, slow-forming ice crystals weaken the cellular structures containing tannin, pigment, and flavor. Once defrosted, the subsequent fermentation can extract about 50% more of these critical compounds than a conventional fermentation without Cryo-Maceration.
Conventional Fermentation – around 20% to 40% extraction
Cryo-Maceration – around 30% to 60% extraction
The first wine in which Bending Branch employed Cryo-Maceration, the Bending Branch Winery 2011 Estate Tannat CM, was awarded Double Gold, Texas Class Champion, Class Champion, and was named Top Texas Wine at the 2014 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition.
One useful side effect of Cryo-Maceration is that it allows us to defer the fermentation of a portion of our fruit until later in the season when there is more room in the winery and more time in the winemaking schedule.