Home Winemaking Chez O’Connell

Punching Down the Cap
Here I am punching down the cap on our bodacious Ciel du Cheval syrah, a monster wine destined for greatness.

Taking a break from writing and teaching, I spent the past fall fermenting our cabernet, merlot and syrah. It’s physical work, but very rewarding, allowing me to get in touch with my inner winemaker. We buy most of our grapes from Ciel du Cheval vineyard on Red Mountain in Eastern Washington. These are some of the best grapes in the state; two wines rated 100 by Robert Parker came out of the same vineyard. As long as I do my job, the eventual wine will be superb. My winemaking partner Tom Remmers and I share winemaking duties and our crew of Les Copains volunteers does a fantastic job of helping us our with crushing, pressing, fermenting and finally bottling. It provides a good break from more cerebral activities like writing and teaching, and allows me to experience winemaking from the ground up.