Like everything you can do when making wine, you can use stalks in many different ways. Remove them all, adding them with whole bunches can be purposeful or a bi-product of whole bunch use, destem your fruit and then add them back, chop them into tiny pieces and add them.
The reason for adding them will vary depending on the fruit and style of wine you make. In the Yarra Valley, I’ve never had a problem using them, we used them extensively at Yarra Yering & in the last 3 years I’ve used them for Wine Decoded’s wine. We’ve seen a significant number of winemakers playing with stalks in Shiraz and Pinot in recent times. Mostly with whole bunches.
However you add them, there are consequences that can limit your options further down the track.
If you have no way of getting them out during or after fermentation other than to press the wine, your hand can be forced. Leaving them in too long can result in bitter hard tannins can being extracted.
That is the reason we add ours using giant teabags, so we can remove them at just the right moment and hopefully make the perfect cuppa of wine.
When we made the Wine Decoded Bathtub Cabernet in 2015 this allowed us to use stalks for most of the alcoholic fermentation, remove them, then continue to macerate the wine for almost 2 week on skins after the alcoholic fermentation had finished.
In our 2017 Shiraz we chose to remove them toward the end of the alcoholic fermentation. If we’d wanted to we could have left the wine on skins to macerate post fermentation. In the end, as you’ll see in the next episode, we pressed the wine just a day later.