Some would choose to use commercial strains to enhance a desired element, but we want to capture the vineyard and vintage, and we feel that using native yeasts helps us achieve that goal.” in Santa Barbara, is also a proponent of native yeast, but like us, he understands that some wineries use commercial yeasts because of demands of harvest and limited space.
“All commercial yeasts were once native,” he says, “but the reality seems to be that all one winemaker can do is their best to make what they consider to be a unique expression of a time and place.”Cultured yeasts are reliable and predictable and can be selected to achieve specific style goals.
To test this theory, we sent samples of our 2016 John Sebastiano Vineyard Syrah to ETS Labs for DNA testing.
The lab analyzed different yeast colonies at the beginning, middle, and end of fermentation.
At the bakery, we worked with up to 20 different fermentations daily—with commercial and native yeasts.
I noticed the impact that different starters and fermentation times had on different breads—those made with native yeast starters had richer aromatics, remarkable depth of flavors, and unique textures.
In theory, each separate pick should have its own signature yeasts from the microbiome of the vineyard—the community of microorganisms present in a vineyard site—even the individual block.
We believe—and ETS Labs analysis backs this up—that yeasts change from year to year as well, and we are fans of really showing the signature of each vintage., the London-based author Jamie Goode writes, “Of the estimated 1,000 or so volatile flavour compounds in wine, at least 400 are produced by yeast.” I was struck by the magnitude of this figure, but it made sense when we looked at our own trials.
While commercial strains were present, ETS confirms, and I concur, that our fermentations are being driven by native Most of the time, wineries build up their own microflora, including yeasts and bacteria.
De Scenzo has seen wineries—ones that have never used commercial strains—ferment wines solely through populations of native yeasts that exist in the wineries.