No Added Sugar — The European Way and Turtle Run Way — Why We Go Through This Painstaking Process!

Excerpt taken from our September / October 2014 Email Newsletter

The New Wines of 2014 — A Little Luck, + a Lot of Work = Great Wines Forthcoming

For the first time in seemingly forever, we harvested our West Side Vignoles.  Starlings normally graze the heck out of this section, but none were around this year (by the way, I hold starlings in high regard as a smart, very resourceful bird to get around my defenses).  We took 180 gallons and barrel fermented it and whoa, does anyone remember barrel-aged Vignoles in 2004?  Yeah, that’s what’s coming in sometime late spring.

Lots of Work:  Our process of not adding sugar to dry wine to make sweet wine has pushed the staff and me to the brink.  We had three wines come to the max limits on alcohol that we wanted — on the same day!  Not fair! Who is managing the tank temperatures that caused this?  That person needs to be on a performance improvement plan!  Oh wait, that’s me.  Uh-oh!  I’m glad Catherine isn’t old enough yet to run this place.  Whew!!   But hey, it could have occurred on a concert Sunday, so we’ll take it!  So why do we not take dry wine and add sugar? It’s certainly legal in America to do so. And, it’s certainly easier to make a sweet wine that way.

In Europe, it’s illegal.  So I thought if they can make sweet wines without adding sugar, why can’t I?  I want to compete with the best in the world, so it only makes sense that this would be the first step.

I personally like the flavor we get by making wine this way. To me, I find the sweetness to be clean and refreshing, with no sugary aftertaste at the end.

We did a study with the lab EMSL to see if there was something else. What we found was wines that were very low to non existent in glucose and much higher in fructose.

We were able to hypothesize afterwards that yeast will consume glucose over fructose, like a dog would rather consume a steak than dry dog food.  We have heard customers tell us who were diabetic that they could enjoy our wines without a spike in their sugar levels. That would be pretty cool too, though that would be hard for me to verify. And if there are health benefits to making wine this way, I need to stick with it.

It would seem like this is a less caloric way of making wine too. Research shows that glucose contains 4 calories per gram and fructose contains 3. Another study shows that fructose is 2.2 times sweeter by taste than glucose and 1.72 times sweeter by taste than sugar. Thus, it would stand to reason that I could reduce my residual sugars and attain the same sweetness as if I added sugar. So perhaps there are other benefits that might help some folks.

So there you go!

And a big thanks to Gretchen and John for helping process Sangiovese grapes.  Heaven forbid we ever make this wine again.  What takes an hour to process cabenet franc takes 5 hours for Sangiovese.  UGH!!  But the wine tastes great, so what the hey!!!

Our mixed up screwed up vineyard came on board this year.  This is the one that the kids will rip out when they find out what I did — mixed grape varieties to create a field blend.  Dang it’s good.  Gretchen, John, Christine, and I have tasted it and we don’t know what it tastes like, perhaps a pink pinot grigio with just hair bit of residual sugar.  Currently the wine has been nicknamed “The Funky Co-Madina!

And traminette….whoa!  Yeah, that’s a good one.

Now if you think I am dissing on the kids, I am not.  I added them into this discussion to emphasize a point of uniqueness to Turtle Run Winery.  We go to some crazy extra steps to create exceptional quality and unique wines for you, the consumer.  We care about costs, to a point, but the point is to make great wine and not let accounting or an easy route get in the way.  We are teaching the kids that hard work wins in the long run.  No, I could easily see Max and Catherine being crazier and more adventurous than Laura and me.  Maybe they’ll give me a raise when they take over!!!  Yeah!!!!

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