It has been said that to be successful in business one should know their product better than anyone else. We agree, and with that in mind the team here at Innerstave decided to buy a couple barrels of wine this year – a 2021 Lodi Chardonnay and Cabernet and oak ‘em up.
The idea was to evaluate and confirm our oak profiles and really get to know how our oak is performing in our clients’ wines. Our hope was that with this knowledge we can not only better understand our product but also better serve our clients. In order to do that we first needed some decent base wine. For that I reached out to my friend Susy out in Lodi who is not only a great person but a damn good winemaker as well.
With solid base wine procured, we needed a game plan for how we were going to set the trials up for success and avoid spoilage. I decided to tap (pun intended) into my experience as a home brewer and sourced some shiny new stainless Corny Kegs, a simple tap system, and a fresh bottle of CO2. If we were going to evaluate these wines over the course of the year, we needed a way to pull samples without introducing too much oxygen. The Corny Kegs were perfect for this since we could attach a tap to the outlet of the keg and pressurize with CO2 to both take a sample of the wine and gas the headspace with inert gas in the process. This eliminated the need to open the keg and avoided introducing any spoilage organisms or oxygen to the wine.
The next part was the most difficult – waiting for the oak to extract. We tasted the wines at two, four, and six weeks but since we were using stave segments instead of chips or cubes the oak hadn’t had enough time to extract fully into the wine. At 8 weeks the wines were looking pretty good, and the oak was extracting quite nicely. Once the wines got to a spot where we were happy with them, we removed the oak, checked the chemistry and re-topped.
Going forward, these wines will be tasted, tested, analyzed and used to create new profiles, new oak blends or new products all together. In addition, we now have all of our oak profiles in both a Chardonnay and a Cabernet that are ready to show to any client at a moment’s notice without having to wait the two or three weeks necessary to set up a bench trial. We understand that there are a lot of companies offering oak alternatives out there and feel our products are among the best. Knowing our product better than anyone else will undoubtably allow us to better serve our clients and their specific needs. We believe our dedication to product quality, research, customer service, and focusing on what our customers truly need is what will continue to set Innerstave apart from the competition.
-Jason Dodge, Managing Director, Winemaking