Although there are a few Italian wineries that believe blaring loud speaker music onto their vineyards improves their vines’ growing cycle, science, however, points to the fermentation stages of a wine’s development as the better target where music can impact the beauty, finesse, smoothness and quality of the finished wine.
The role of yeast in the winemaking fermentation process is certainly the most critical element which distinguishes a grape’s transformation, or as the French call it, "élevage" (the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling known as a wine's adolescence or breeding). Fermentation is a complex biochemical reaction in which yeast consumes sugar in the grape juice (must) and releases alcohol and carbon dioxide. It determines the future quality of wine and occurs shortly after harvest. Fermentation can take anywhere from four to eight days for red Bordeaux style wines, and as long as several months for Burgundian style white wines.
When classical music is introduced during the yeast’s élevage period, it interacts with the microorganisms and enlightens their magical elements, truly bringing them to life. Music is channeled in through a Pioneer Elite surround sound system with THX throughout the Winery. The increased yeast activity translates into fuller-bodied wines with deeper complexity of flavors.
“I can sense and taste Chopin, Borodin, Mozart, and Ravel’s Bolero effects on the wine’s development.” Says Winemaker, Igor Sill. The systematic arrangement of these rhythms exhibit perfection of elegant construction, exquisite detail, and harmonious finish which propels the yeasts’ passion for their tasks, converting sugar into alcohol. “Serenading the yeast’s activities encourages far better microscopic single-cell conversion involvement in our fermentation tanks. The rhythm and harmonious sounds seem to maintain a much more constant fermentation temperature allowing our wines to 'open up' fully.”
Music is played for four hours per day, each and every day, then restful peace fulfills the remaining hours.
“I have come to realize that wondrous music during the winemaking process provides both, our wines and myself, with an undeniably profound sense of serenity, calm and tranquility while allowing the wine to exhibit its unique expression of personality," says Sill.
As in wine, art, music and life, the simplest of details can bear extraordinarily exceptional results.
The author, Igor Sill, farms a St Helena hillside cabernet sauvignon vineyard and a mountain vineyard in Atlas Peak Mountain in Napa. He's a passionate winemaker, wine lover; writer; Court of Master Sommeliers; attended UC Davis' winemaking program; Judge, International Wine Challenge, London UK and holds his Masters from Oxford University. See more at: www.sillfamilyvineyards.com