The photo above is Navarro's modern take on the centuries old tradition of pigeage
—treading on the grapes. Although pigeage
has disappeared except as a tourist attraction—or a Lucille Ball TV rerun—in most wine producing areas, it stubbornly remains as the primary method of fermenting Pinot Noir in Burgundy. Open-top fermenters are filled with grapes—destemmed or whole clusters or both—then someone, historically a male, will strip to their underwear and hop in. Fermentations get off to very sluggish starts when grapes are harvested cold. Hot spots develop in the must when the fermentation in one area becomes more active than in the surrounding grapes; the task is to mix the hot with the cold to even out the fermentation, and the human body is a great heat sensor. When we started making wine we were skeptical of pigeage
, so over two vintages we experimented by fermenting Pinot two ways: by pumping the must or pigeage
Navarro winery crush interns ready for punchdowns, September 2020. In spite of masks, social distancing, smoke and ash—not to mention the lack of a sit-down hot meal at noon—it was one of the best teams we've seen at Navarro.