Wild Yeast Fermentation: “There’s No Such Thing”

wildyeast copySome fairly stunning information concerning the idea of “Wild” or “Indigenous” yeast is coming to light that has implications for wine marketing and wine making. How shall I put this? Let’s try this: If you think your wine went through fermentation driven by wild yeast or if you think the wine you are drinking was produced via a wild yeast fermentation, it probably wasn’t.

This is the startling conclusion brought to light in a study undertaken in British Columbia and reported upon by Andy Perdue in the new August 2013 issue of Wine Business Monthly. Here’s the money quote:

Regardless of which yeast started the fermentation—indigenous or otherwise—a dominant commercial strain took over during the process, essentially wiping out any other forms of yeast that might have been present.”

AMAZING
The results of the three years study of three wineries in British Columbia under the auspices of the University of British Columbia were first disclosed at a talk given at last summer’s British Columbia Wine Grape Council’s Annual Meeting.

The esteemed Ken Wright of Ken Wright cellars described what he heard at the meeting as “Amazing”, and went on to note that the findings “flew in the face of what I and most people were assuming happens in fermentations…Wild fermentations are anything but wild. Yes, you have a strain that is identified as wild. But that strain is almost immediately overwhelmed by house yeast. Within the first few days of fermentation, they are gone. The commercial strains fight it out for domination.”

QUESTIONS
The questions, then are these: will commercial strains take over a fermentation in a winery where no commercial yeast has ever been used before? Even if you have never used a commercial strain of yeast, will your “wild” fermentation be overtaken by a dominant commercial strain if you are producing wine in a  region where commercial strains have been used by other wineries and that become part of the regional environment (terrior)?

Wright is organizing a similar study in Oregon that will include Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Beaux Freres, Grand Cru Estates, Cristom and Bethel Heights Winery. Also, Road 13 Vineyards, one of the original 3 wineries involved in the study, is in the process of building a new facility that will never have had a commercial yeast used in its proximity. They will test for which yeast strains are present in their first fermentations, further clarifying these startling results.

IMPLICATIONS
It’s notable that among the primary criteria to be called a “Natural” wine, is that the yeast used must be “wild” or “indigenous to the vineyard/winery. If these findings appear to be consistent across the globe’s growing regions, “Natural” winemaker may have to rethink what they consider necessary in order to call a wine “Natural”.  Futhermore, numerous wines are marketed as being produced with “Wild Yeast”. Again, if these findings are consistent across growing regions, there may be a need to stop such marketing or make it easy and simply re-define what “wild” means.

For he record, the leader of the study reported upon in Wine Business Monthly, Dan Durrall, believes “there is no such thing as a ‘wild yeast’ fermentation.”


105 Responses

  1. Scott K - August 2, 2013

    Another question is…the dominant ‘commercial’ yeast strains mentioned in the article have always been marketed to winemakers as specifically isolated for wines (and even for specific wines). If it turns out that these strains are taking over even in new cellars where no yeast has ever been used, then it would seem that the previous marketing of said yeast strains might be…shall we say…charlatanesque?

  2. Rich Reader - August 2, 2013

    As fermentation facilities are not “clean rooms” in the industrial-control sense, they are not excluding house yeast. In as much as that we can isolate wild yeast, and cultivate it in an environment where no other yeasts are present, it’s not exactly wild but newly domesticated.

  3. Tom Wark - August 2, 2013

    Rich,
    I can see the language on the label of that cold climate Pinot now:

    PINOT NOIR
    Russian River Valley
    “Hipity Dipity Vineyard”
    Newly Domesticated Yeast

    It doesn’t quite have the ring, does it.

  4. Two Shepherds, William Allen - August 2, 2013

    let me know when we have a final definition on natural wine…..

  5. Tom Wark - August 2, 2013

    William,

    I’m on it.

  6. Aaron - August 2, 2013

    “oh I hope the terroir of my land comes thru with my natural occurring yeast after I inoculate with this commercial yeast strain that gives me the specific taste and color profile I am after…” has said no wine maker ever, at least any that knows what they are doing.

    This read as one massively biased “study”. The jump to an assumption or question that because somebody uses commercial yeasts means it could take over all other yeasts in a given region is a pretty big leap.

  7. David - August 2, 2013

    I got it. If ‘wild’ is techincally disingenuous marketing, & ‘newly domesticated’ is awkward labeling, my own unevenly yeasted life provides a category source model: RANDOM. I prefer wines fermented by RANDOM YEASTING to those inoculated the the lab-hand of man– MOST of the time. Thank you.

  8. David - August 2, 2013

    The lab-hand of this man at work: techincally, for ‘technically’!

  9. gabe - August 2, 2013

    This argument is idiotic. Where do you thinik “commercial” yeast strains come from? They isolated the dominant yeast strains, then packaged them. Twenty years later, they notice that all the dominant yeast strains are “commercial” yeast strains, and therfore say there is no such thing as wild fermentation? That’s like saying all wild animals are domesticated in zoos, so therefore there is no such thing as a wild animal.

    The idea behind “wild” yeast fermentation is that during the first week of fermentation, an ecosystem of various yeasts and bacteria will develop before the dominant yeast takes over. Experiments have been done to prove that “wild” ferments have a wider variety of yeast and bacteria than wines that are made with commercial yeasts.

  10. Tom Wark - August 2, 2013

    Gabe:

    Regarding the wild animal analogy. That’s not really what’s being said. a “Wild Yeast” fermentation always refers to allowing whatever yeasts are ambient to have their way. No one is saying there does not exist yeasts beyond those cultivated. However, many folks that promote wild yeast fermentation do so with the thought that having cultivated yeasts do the work leads to a lack of authenticity. It’s likely that many of these folks are simply watching their wines ferment with dominant, cultivated yeasts that floated their way.

    And you are correct. “Wild Yeast” fermentations do indeed have a wider variety of bacteria. In fact, you risk a great deal by going with straight wild yeast fermentations because of the soup of bacteria that can result.

    One interesting question is to what extent any discernible character can be created from the short time the non-dominant yeasts help the ferment out in the very, very early stages.

    • gabe - August 2, 2013

      you know dude, it doesn’t have to be a competition. Some people use wild yeast, and some use cultured yeast, and one way doesn’t have to be better or worse than the other. But they are different, and to say they are not shows a lack of respect for the craft of wine making. As for how much of a difference it makes – well, it must make some difference, since you decided to write an article about it.

      As for your idea that cultivated yeasts will “float” into a wild ferment…well, cross contamination is unavoidable, unless your winery uses 100% native yeasts. Even then, a dominant yeast strain will eventually take over the ferment. But to say that “there’s no such thing” as wild fermentation ignores – literally – thousands of years of wine production history. Just because the most dominant yeast strains have now been isolated and packaged in vacuum sealed pouches, it does not mean that wild yeast fermentation has somehow ceased to exist.

  11. Andy Perdue - August 2, 2013

    Aaron,

    Neither the study nor the story indicated that commercial strains of yeast take over an entire region.

    In fact, one interesting note in the story is that one winery that will be participating this fall is a new winery that is finishing construction right now. As there has never been yeast (wild or otherwise) in the building, it will be interesting to see what happens during harvest.

    If, in fact, RC 212 or D254 show up during fermentation when they were never used (commercially) by the winery, well this becomes a much more interesting story.

    Sincerely,

    Andy Perdue
    (author of the WBM story)

  12. Tom Wark - August 2, 2013

    Gabe,

    I’m not suggesting there is no difference between a wild yeast fermentation and an inoculated fermentation. After all, one is inoculated and another is not. There is clearly more risk too associated with wild yeast fermentation.

    One of the interesting questions is even if your winery always has been 100% wild yeast fermentation, is it possible that the yeast that is ultimately controlling your fermentation and have the greatest impact is cultivated yeast that is in “air” in your region, thereby relegating the other “wild” yeasts to a secondary or event minimal role?

    • gabe - August 3, 2013

      Tom,

      If the yeast that ferments your wine is floating around in the air, doesn’t that make it a wild yeast?

      Yeast enters wine in many ways…it is on grape skins, it sticks to winemaking equipment, it gets on your hands, and it can float in on a fruit fly. Most yeast die once they reach about 5% alcohol, but a few stronger strains survive. After thousands of years of spontaneous fermentation, scientists finally figured out how to isolate and reproduce those dominant yeast strains. But that doesn’t mean that every time they show up in a wine, it is because it came out of a package. Think back to the zoo analogy. D254 is not a dominant yeast because it is a commercial yeast. D254 is a commercial yeast because it is a dominant yeast strain.

      This article does not disprove the existence of wild yeast, it simply determines which strains are common in Willamette Valley pinot noir. While this would indeed be useful information, it does not prove that wild fermentation does not exist. It does proves that some people only see what they want to see. And it proves that bad-mouthing natural wine is a great way for wine writers to get attention

  13. Tom Wark - August 2, 2013

    Andy,

    Your point about the new winery and wondering if RC 212 or D254 do show up is really the key thing, isn’t it.

    By the way, excellent reporting. I failed to note in my post that you were the author. I’ve corrected that. What I’m wondering is why this was not reported on earlier if the story first came out at a meeting in BC in 2012.

    Cheers,
    Tom….

    • Andy Perdue - August 3, 2013

      Tom, thank you for the kind words.

      As to why this wasn’t reported before is a good question. I suspect no journalists were in the room. I happened upon the story while having a beer last February in Portland with a couple of winemakers from B.C. who were at the presentation.

      There are many implications to the study, not the least of which is this: If D254 and RC 212 are taking over every single fermentation, what becomes the market for exotic yeast strains that winemakers are inoculating with because they think they impart certain qualities in their wines? There is a sub-industry for these kinds of yeasts that could be in jeopardy.

      There’s also some indications that winemakers could find ways to mitigate the effects of the dominant commercial yeast strains in favor of what they prefer to use. That will make an interesting follow-up story.

  14. Hugh Kruzel - August 3, 2013

    If “wild” starts process it still must leave a fingerprint. If left to develop on lees then it may (or may not as it seems) have additional implications in roundness/softening.

  15. Per Karlsson, BKWine - August 3, 2013

    This seems to be a typical case of that one has to know *exactly* what the study was about, what were the questions research, and what were the conclusions of the researchers.

    From what one can tell from this story it seems to be a case of journalists/writers dreaming up inflated headlines that has nothing to do with reality (including this blog post), drawing very sweeping and generalising conclusions from a study of very limited scope.

    It is definitely an interesting question but it seems not to be treated in a serious manner.

    • Andy Perdue - August 3, 2013

      Per,

      There wasn’t a lot of guesswork being done by this journalist.

      I read the study it was based upon multiple times, then interviewed the lead researcher, winemakers involved with the study and winemakers who were first exposed to its results during a presentation by the researchers.

      I also asked a scientist whose area of expertise includes yeast to help me fact-check it.

      In fact, the article took several weeks to develop, research and write, distilling tens of thousands of words of research and interviews into a 1,500-word article.

      I’m sorry you don’t view that as a serious effort.

      Sincerely,

      Andy Perdue

  16. Tom Wark - August 3, 2013

    PK,

    Did you read the story that Andy wrote in Wine Business Monthly? His reporting certainly treated the story seriously. You can question whether I did or not. And I’ll grant yo I like to have fun with headlines. However, there are implications to this story and some of them are exactly as I outlined them.

  17. Tom Wark - August 3, 2013

    “If “wild” starts process it still must leave a fingerprint. If left to develop on lees then it may (or may not as it seems) have additional implications in roundness/softening.”

    Hugh, that’s the question isn’t it. Based on the study, the “lesser” yeasts, be they on the grapes or an exotic strain used to inoculate, seem to to be overwhelmed pretty early on by the dominant yeasts that are well known commercial types. The question indeed is the degree of impact on the wine that is seen by allowing the spontaneous fermentation versus simply inoculating with what will turn out to be one of he dominant, commercial yeasts that are floating about.

  18. Tom Wark - August 3, 2013

    Gabe:
    First, the study was done in British Columbia. Second, what this study does demonstrate is that when folks speak of “wild yeast” fermentations, they may be way off base if they think that the yeasts doing the work are separate and apart from the very common commercial yeasts often used to inoculate. Finally, the reason I bring “natural wine” into this conversation is not “bash” the wines. I like many of the wines now being called “natural”. However, consider the following comment about years by Alice Fiering, who is a strong champion of the “natural” approach to winemaking:

    “A winemaker can easily make Muscadet taste like Chardonnay [with commercial yeast]—think of it as flavorings in a fragrance. Natural-wine fans, on the other hand, tout the virtues of using only the yeast already growing in the grower’s grapes or in the winery—on the walls, in the barrels themselves, wherever—to aid fermentation. “Natural yeasts hold the DNA of the vintage, and when you use commercial yeasts instead, all the terroir is lost,”

    So here’s the thing, if that “natural” yeast is indeed just the same commercial yeast that Alice thinks steals the terroir away from the wine, what then do we say about one of the key “natural” approaches to winemaking.

    THAT is one of the implications of this study and Andy’s article. More research is needed.

    Another is this: How likely is it that within wine regions like Napa, the Willamette Valley, Sonoma Valley, Paso Robles, Finger Lakes, etc these common commercial yeasts are going to dominate fermentations whether the winemakers want them to or not cause they are now so commonly part of the environment?

    There are other questions that present themselves too, including questions about the marketing of wine by communicating the wine is one produced with “wild yeast”.

    • gabe - August 3, 2013

      Tom,

      I think we just have a different understanding of what makes a yeast wild vs. what makes a yeast a commercial yeast. The thing I keep saying, but you don’t seem to be hearing, is that all yeast is wild yeast. Commercial yeasts just isolate one particular strain of wild yeast.

      As for the idea of yeast being part of terroir, this study actually supports the fact that certain yeasts are common to certain regions, and are therefore part of the natural terroir of a region. This only reinforces Alice Fiering’s belief that using a Burgundy yeast on a Muscadet grape would interfere with the terroir of the wine.

      And finally, don’ t tell me that you don’t want to “bash” natural wines, or give me your flimsy “some of my best friends are natural wines” defense. I’ve been reading this blog for a month, and this is the third post I’ve read that bad-mouths natural winemaking while displaying a limited understanding about how it actually works. At best, that’s irresponsible journalism. At worst it’s internet trolling. Just remember the people that you disparage for making natural wine are at least making wine, not just talking about it

      • Andrea - August 5, 2013

        Gabe, I never comment in forums, but damn, you are so right. The study was done by Wine Business Monthly. Enough said. That’s like Marlboro studying the side-effects of cigarettes. I own a retail shop, and when you taste a natural wine, it’s alive. There’s no comparison to the industrialized swill wine marketers throw at us every day. Natural wine is a threat to the industrial model.

        • Tom Wark - August 5, 2013

          Andrea:

          We should get it right: The study was done by the University of British Columbia led by Dr. Dan Durrall. Wine Business Monthly only published a story on it written by Andy Purdue. And on another note, I always wonder why some folks insist on comparing “Natural” wine with “Industrial” wine. Why not compare it with artisan wines, made in small batches from single vineyards? Why use Yellow Tale as your comparison? You folks need to raise your bar.

          • Andrea - August 5, 2013

            Point taken, but the article is appearing in Wine Business Journal and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some “research” money behind it. Do I have proof? No. But the article isn’t proving its point either. But who are “we folks” anyway? Are we on sides? Because it’s kind of going out on a limb (as a person writing on the subject) to imply that one study settles the discussion. It’s just bad science. But subjectively speaking, I actually have tasted the difference between small, artisanal producers and natural wines. But I respect small producers working alongside nature instead of against it, regardless of the chosen yeast. I don’t need to compare Yellow Tail to Olivier Cousin-but the contrast is so stark that it kind of stands as a testament to natural wines anyway.

          • Andy Perdue - August 5, 2013

            Andrea, I’ve read many ridiculous things, and your comment about “research money” behind the article is one of them.

            I pitched the article to Wine Business Monthly. Then I researched and wrote the article. It was my first byline in WBM. This is how freelance journalism works.

            Your conspiracy theory is right up there with the faked moon landing. Thanks for the guffaw.

  19. Thomas Pellechia - August 4, 2013

    Gabe:

    I would love for someone to prove this statement:

    “This only reinforces Alice Fiering’s belief that using a Burgundy yeast on a Muscadet grape would interfere with the terroir of the wine.”

    I know that one yeast will bring out qualities from a wine that another might not, but I don’t know of any evidence that any particular yeast can interfere with “terroir.” That’s probably because the definition of “terroir” remains a moving target.

    I also wish that when a writer makes this type of claim: “Natural yeasts hold the DNA of the vintage, and when you use commercial yeasts instead, all the terroir is lost,”

    That the writer provide some evidence.

  20. gabe - August 4, 2013

    In your own words:

    the yeast that is ultimately controlling your fermentation and have the greatest impact is yeast that is in “air” in your region

  21. Thomas Pellechia - August 4, 2013

    Huh?

    • gabe - August 4, 2013

      Whoops! Sorry, that was the other Tom that said that

  22. Thomas Pellechia - August 4, 2013

    Even so, that would not be evidence that using commercial yeast for fermentation loses ALL the terroir–or that

    “A winemaker can easily make Muscadet taste like Chardonnay [with commercial yeast]—think of it as flavorings in a fragrance.”

    First, Chardonnay is a grape variety, not a terroir. Second, although it is produced from a particular grape variety and in a number of particular places located in the Loire, Muscadet is the name of a wine, not of a terroir.

    Facts are not opinions.

  23. Josh - August 4, 2013

    Thomas,

    I’m with Gabe on this one.

    First, no one said it would lose “all” of the terroir – the quote states it would “interfere” with the terroir (air & yeast being two components of terroir).

    Secondly, if you are such a stickler for facts, you should get yours straight : Muscadet is in fact an AOC-protected terroir. You can’t make it in California.

    http://www.blogyourwine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Loie-Valley-Wine-Map2.jpg

    • Bruce G - August 4, 2013

      >>>First, no one said it would lose “all” of the terroir – the quote states it would “interfere” with the terroir (air & yeast being two components of terroir).<<<

      If Tom is quoting accurately (not a given, in that Tom is not the most dispassionate of voices on this subject) then Alice F. did say that 'when you use commercial yeasts instead, all the terroir is lost'.
      I'm not sure why people are demanding proofs in what is undoubtedly a discussion of differing philosophies.

      Nor can I understand why some people are so hellbent on de-legitimizing others' opinions.

  24. Thomas Pellechia - August 4, 2013

    Bruce:

    My intent is to point out that these are merely opinions–not facts. Usually, opinions are prefaced with a notice that what is about to come at you IS an opinion, you know like, “in my opinion,..” I know that the self-assured have trouble with that sort of stuff, but the general public really needs to have that information.

    Josh:

    Three or four separate sub appellations are allowed to use the name Muscadet. That would mean at a minimum three or four separate “terroirs” and when you boil them down into macro-sites, who knows how many “terroirs” that means?

    It’s simplistic nonsense to say that a particular yeast can obliterate Muscadet terroir and turn it into Chardonnay, and to say it without even considering the winemaking variables.

    It’s like calling a mouse a rat: incendiary as well as inaccurate.

    • Bruce G - August 4, 2013

      >>It’s simplistic nonsense to say that a particular yeast can obliterate Muscadet terroir and turn it into Chardonnay, and to say it without even considering the winemaking variables.<<

      For the sake of consistency, Thomas, you should probably preface the above statement with the phrase "In my opinion…..".

      • Thomas Pellechia - August 5, 2013

        Bruce:

        In my opinion, you have a point.

        Since you didn’t preface your point with “in my opinion,” i’s a match point.

        • Thomas Pellechia - August 5, 2013

          it’s a match point…sheesh!

  25. Tom Wark - August 4, 2013

    “If Tom is quoting accurately (not a given, in that Tom is not the most dispassionate of voices on this subject”

    That’s not very nice!

  26. Tom Wark - August 4, 2013

    “Nor can I understand why some people are so hellbent on de-legitimizing others’ opinions.”

    By the way, Bruce, I’ve been asking this question about the champions of “Natural Wine” for a long time now.

    • Bruce G - August 5, 2013

      >>By the way, Bruce, I’ve been asking this question about the champions of “Natural Wine” for a long time now.<<

      Well, maybe some day, when you want to know the answer to this question, you'll ask it *of* these champions and not *about* them.

  27. Fabio (Vinos Ambiz) - August 5, 2013

    I see that gabe has taken over where I left off, last year! ie, trying to engage with Mr T Wark. I came to the conclusion that it’s a waste of time, as his agenda is focused on delegitimizing natural wines in any way he can, including leaping to conclusions, making unfounded accusations, and stooping to personal insults. Yes, the number of posts on natural wines on this blog is rather excessive, considering the real numbers and volumes of natural wine produced in the world, and considering all the other issues he covers in the wine world. I think it does Mr Wark no credit whatsoever to indulge in this anti natural wine crusade, and detracts from his legitimacy and credibility in the other topics that his blog deals with, especially the 3-tier system that winelovers are burdened with in the USA, and other interesting topics. How can one take what he says seriously about the 3-tier system, for example, when he is so obviously tendentious about natural wine? It makes one wonder.

    • Thomas Pellechia - August 5, 2013

      Fabio,

      Tom didn’t write the article that he referenced. He’s doing what everyone seems to do: find stories that support your argument and then tout them.

      I believe that Andy Purdue is doing a service to the wine industry by at least trying to find evidence concerning the issue of what happens to or with yeast during fermentation rather than just opining over it.

      The other interesting part of this issue is that some of us in the discussion have no particular financial interest in its outcome–others do, including Tom. It seems to me that one ought to take that into consideration when evaluating information.

  28. Tom Wark - August 5, 2013

    Fabio, Fabio, Fabio.

    If you looked close, you’d probably find no more than 20 posts on this blog that deal directly with or touch on the issue of “Natural” wine….and that’s out of more than 2, 660 total total posts. That might be excessive. But it might be a drop in the bucket too.

    And it’s not a matter of de-legitimizng the wines. It’s a matter of delegitimizing the name “Natural”. But we’ve had this discussion.

    The issue of wild yeast, what it means, and whether it is a central pat of what we call “terroir” is all central to the idea of “natural” wine. Now, we see research reported upon by a well respected writer in a well respected wine journal that goes a long way toward suggestng that “wild yeast” fermenations may in many cases merely be a matter of common, dominant commercial yeasts that many “natural” winemakers and champions of the movement believe serve to make wines taste the same or contribute to the “industrialization” of the wine industry actually being the yeasts that finish the fermentations that are considered “Wild”.

    It’s a pretty interesting story, on a number levels.

  29. gabe - August 5, 2013

    I agree that this is an interesting story that can go a long way to explaining what is going on with a wild yeast fermentation. But I disagree with the notion that these wild yeasts are somehow the product of the commercial yeast industry. Too rehash my old analogy, saying that all wild yeasts are really commercial yeast is like saying all wild animals are really just escaped zoo animals.

    I see I’m not the first person to go on this crusade, and I assure you I have better things to do with my time than beat my head against a wall. I read a lot of wine blogs, and had heard good things about this one, so I wanted to check it out. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed reading it

  30. Stuart Smith - August 5, 2013

    Gabe & Fabio,

    As the saying goes, you have a right to your opinions, but you don’t have the right to create your own facts. Both the Natural wine movement and the Biodynamic crowd have long claimed that wild fermentations make for superior wine – with no factual evidence ever presented. When folks make unsubstantiated claims of superiority they should be prepared for a push-back from those of us who believe in a fact-based world.

    The recent article by Andy Perdue is both enlightening and goes a long way to undermining those claims of superiority. If either of you have science based research that substantiates your claims then please provide it.

    BTW, I used wild fermentations for Pinot noir over 35 years ago and gave them up because, in my opinion, they were not superior to cultured yeast; additionally, they introduced an element of risk to wine quality. Because the fermentations were started by “wild” non-wine yeasts and we are in the west I called them “Bronco” fermentations.

    Tom, good work.

    Stu Smith

    • Bruce G - August 5, 2013

      >>As the saying goes, you have a right to your opinions, but you don’t have the right to create your own facts. Both the Natural wine movement and the Biodynamic crowd have long claimed that wild fermentations make for superior wine – with no factual evidence ever presented. When folks make unsubstantiated claims of superiority they should be prepared for a push-back from those of us who believe in a fact-based world.<>The recent article by Andy Perdue is both enlightening and goes a long way to undermining those claims of superiority. If either of you have science based research that substantiates your claims then please provide it.<<

      Unfortunately (for you), the original work doesn't really undermine the claims, since the findings suggest that non-inoculated fermentations have a rather high microfloral diversity, especially up through the earlier stages of fermentation.
      There are experminental design issues also at work here… all in all, from a strictly scientific standpoint this research hardly signals the death knell for spontaneous fermentations.

  31. Thomas Pellechia - August 5, 2013

    Sorry Andy. I misspelled your surname.

    • Andy Perdue - August 5, 2013

      Thomas,

      No worries. Not the first time; not the last.

  32. Pat F - August 5, 2013

    Back before more info was published about “Wild” fermentation, I was also intrigued with the idea that,If a complex of yeasts all started working in a must then a more complex wine may result. So we tried a comparison with 2 bins of the same must. It was a little risky because I wasn’t the owner of the grapes, just the winemaker responsible for getting them dry. The biggest difference between the 2 were that the un-inoculated must began smelling of ethyl-acetate within a day while the cap on the inoculated must had risen and there seemed to be enough CO2 developing to protect the must from the fruit flies the were attracted to the un-inoculated bin. We drained the bins and kept a barrel of each +topping wine, to evaluate after barrel aging. Both wines were dry enough to inoculate w/ ML in the same week. We tasted the wines informally when we racked and topped the trial barrels. At first it seemed as if the inoculated wine was indeed different if not better that the inoculated wine. As the fermentation aromas faded, so to did the differences between the wines. After +- 16 months it was time to blend the lots and the only remaining noticeable difference was, a slightly higher measurable VA in the un-inoculated wine. I guess it was worth the effort to see if we could gain quality by allowing the existing flora in the must to conduct the fermentation. I’m glad that the wine didn’t go TOO bad and I had to answer to the owner why we had unsaleable wine to destroy. In conclusion: Even though the results were not disastrous(depends on your tolerance for VA) it was not worth the risk.

  33. Harry - August 5, 2013

    So at the risk of stirring up another storm, would it be fair to say that many wild fermentations are micro-inoculations of commercial yeasts?

  34. Tom Stutz - August 5, 2013

    Confirms earlier studies and easily observable progressions in your own winery. Winery strains most likely dominate, whether “commercial” or not. Unless you are using a new location and all new equipment each year, then your facility will put selective pressure on all received micro-organisms. Get over it. Favor wild yeast with low or no initial SO2 level, colder temperatures and little if any nutrient feeding. Wine will finish with your house strain if you do not inoculate with a selected strain. Of course, “finishing” may be with some residual sugar. From personal experience, we juiced chardonnay into new barrels without inoculation. Got expected crud and slow start of ferment, then after 10 days or so went to rolling ferment with light clean foam (finishing strain unknown). This was exactly as reported in the literature of the time – 20 years ago. Second year, being cost conscious, only some new barrels, balance from prior vintage. New wood, same progression. Used wood (cleaned and sanitized) went directly to low foam rolling ferment and finished in half the time of the new barrels. Old news, new students. BTW – at La Rochelle I do mixed ferments favoring the wild yeasts initially and finishing with selected strains which will compliment the specific fruit source.

  35. John Kafarski - August 5, 2013

    I do appreciate this type of conversation – there needs to be more discussion concerning what actually factors into the production of a finished bottle of wine. Though I may have missed it above in the comments, has anyone asked what I think is a critical question – though “native” yeasts are almost overwhelmed (with regards to the length of their life within fermentation) by commercial yeasts, do “native” yeasts impart more of their characteristics on the finished wine than commercial yeasts? Just because they last longer it doesn’t mean that they necessarily leave more a “mark” on the wine than native yeasts.

  36. Michael - August 5, 2013

    If you inoculate or don’t inoculate the primary yeast to complete the fermentation is Saccharomyces cerevisiae cerevisiae and Saccharomyces cerevisiae bayanus. These yeasts are “rarely found in the vineyard” to quote my professor. They prefer high sugar environments. The primary yeasts from the vineyard are “apiculated yeasts” Kloeckera apiculata and Hanseniaspora uvarum. The commercial yeast used today were isolated from “wild” yeasts and propagated then freeze dried or stored on media. In wild fermentations native species are taken over because of their intolerance to primarily alcohol, temperature or simply out competed. My text book “Wine Microbiology” by Ken Fugelsang says regarding native fermentations sites Sponholz et al. (1986) the characteristics of native wines can be attributed to “low but detectable concentrations of reducing sugars as well as higher concentrations of glycerol and other polyols” . Bruce Zoecklein (1995) also notes that the extended lag phase of native fermentations contribute to the phenol polymerization due to the reaction of anthocyanins with oxygen in the absence of alcohol. I also remember that Ken would say that the majority of romantic verbage that is used to sell commercial yeasts has not been proven.
    By the way, I make “natural” wines with “wild” yeast.

    • gabe - August 5, 2013

      damn Michael. I might have to offer these people some ointment after that burn

    • Thomas Pellechia - August 6, 2013

      Michael,

      If I understand you correctly, you’ve replaced the word “wild” with “native” and the word “commercial” with “wild.”

      I expect that won’t do for ideologues who believe strongly that “wild” yeast is part of the terroir, which I interpret to mean everything outside the winery–where grapes grow.

      • Michael - August 6, 2013

        In the text they are used interchangeably

  37. Michael - August 5, 2013

    On a side note a commercially available yeast known as “William-Selyem” was isolated and has been available as a liquid starter for almost 20 years. Is it native?

  38. Jeremy - August 6, 2013

    Saccharomyces cerevisiae….what do you think finishes fermentation??

    Native-wild yeast same thing…a cellar that uses no commercial yeast strains.
    Commercial yeast the stuff that’s vacuum packed..you rehydrate and add to the tank of juice….go ahead check your text book.

    What this article actually did was shed some light on the misunderstanding and misconceptions there is surrounding fermentation.
    Go ahead and read your post again you contradict yourself…”I produce wine from wild ferment” “wild yeast like Kloeckera apiculata and Hanseniaspora uvarum can not complete alcoholic fermentation” “Saccharomyces is not present in high levels in the vineyard etc etc”

    Really you think that’s the approach we should have in the Industry? Bully people into thinking the way we want them to. Really?

    Look I totally agree with the affects Pichia kluyveri, Torulaspora delbrueckii, Kluyveromyces thermotolerans etc etc can have on a wine in the initial stages of ferment and I dont think anyone disagrees with that. What they want to establish is what effect can
    Saccharaomyces yeast strains have in a region, one producer inoculates with a commercial strain …his neighbour does not…has commercial yeast strains been use so much in the industry that it is that airborne or float or whatever you want to call it…The answer we don’t know hence the article hence the researcher. Have your opinion that’s great and discussions are fantastic on a public platform like this but geez the insults that were thrown here is ridiculous there is no need for that!

    I think researcher is great, there is clearly a lot we ALL need to learn and understand regarding winemaking and before you have facts…concrete facts…tested..you just have an opinion and we are all entitled to that. So good on you Andy and Thomas for trying to find more answers and thanks for sharing it with us.

  39. jason - August 6, 2013

    What about Brett? Is that a natural yeast that is part of terroir?

    • Thomas Pellechia - August 6, 2013

      It gets my vote.

  40. Lee Newby - August 6, 2013

    ……. as noted above, most indigenous yeasts can’t handle alc over 6-7% so to get to a 13-15% wine you need Saccharomyces cerevisiae sp. to finish it off, or 6 months as they do in the Loire where the wine sleeps all winter at 6-7% and 4-5C then wakes up to spring and the SC shows up somewhat naturally.

    Good piece, rile up those “natural” wine types ;)

  41. Fabio (Vinos Ambiz) - August 6, 2013

    Thomas (Pellechia),
    Yes, the original article Andy Purdue is extremely interesting and relevant and worthy of discussion (IMHO). What I objected to was Tom (Wark’s) using it for his own purposes, ie denigrating/deligitimizing natural wines. I guess I should just relax! I thought it was common knowledge already that Sacch.Cerv. kicks in after a few days and dominates and finishes fermentations, and that it lives in wineries, and not in vineyards, etc. What’s the big hoo-ha? Anyway, I still think his irrational crusade against natural wines does him no credit.

  42. Fabio (Vinos Ambiz) - August 6, 2013

    Tom (Wark),
    20 posts may not be a lot to you, as you you are a professional writer and write several posts per week, but those 20 posts blasting natural wines have been read by a lot of people, and have probably had more impact on people’s opinion of natural wine, than other posts on natural wines.

    The use of the word natural is perfectly legitimate, as all speakers of the English language know that adjectives can have more than one meaning. It’s tendentious of you to keep insisting that they can only have one meaning. As I said in a recent post in my own blog, Mirriam-Webster’s lists about 10 meanings of the word ‘natural’, as does the Oxford English Dictionary, including Meaning 7a: “manufactured using only simple or minimal processes” (1991). Recently I found this reference to natural wine in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1911 Edition (that’s nineteen-eleven):

    “One method of assisting nature in wine-making, which is, in the opinion of the author, not justifiable if the resulting product is sold as wine or in such a manner as to indicate that it is natural wine, is the process termed ” gallisizing,” so called from its inventor H. L. L. Gall, which has been largely practised, particularly on the Rhine. The process of Gall consists in adding sugar and water in sufficient quantity to establish the percentages of free acid and sugar which are characteristic of the best years in the must obtained in inferior years. Although there is no objection to this product from a purely hygienic point of view, it is not natural wine, and the products present in the must other than sugar and acid are by this process seriously affected.”

    I thought it was common knowledge that Sacch.Cerv. becomes the dominant strain after a certain number of days, and finishes off all fermentations. I’ve never believed that “wild yeasts are good” “commercial yeasts are bad” per se. That’s just silly, because Sacch.Cerv. is just as wild/natural/feral as any other strain, only it’s been packaged up conveniently for winemakers to use. Or to abuse. I believe that the first few days of fermentation by wild yeasts, other than Sacch.Cerv. contribute to the expression of terroir in a wine. If a wine is inoculated with Sacch.Cerv. and the other wild yeasts are not given the opportunity to do their thing, than part of the terroir is lost. Even more so it the wine is inoculated with special modified strains of yeast that impart flavours.

  43. Fabio (Vinos Ambiz) - August 6, 2013

    Stu,
    I couldn’t agree more with you that Andy Perdue’s article is interesting and enlightening. I was not objecting to its findings (with which I agreed anyway!). I was objecting to Tom Wark’s use of it to somehow deligitimize natural wines and/or the use of the word ‘natural’ to describe said wines.
    I’m afraid I don’t have facts or references at my fingertips to demonstrate that those first few days of fermentation by yeasts other than Sacch.Cerv. are important to the expression of terroir in wines. Maybe someone reading this knows of a reference.
    At least I know for a fact that the word ‘natural’ has multiple meanings! Like ‘organic’ and every other adjective in the English language!

    • Thomas Pellechia - August 6, 2013

      Fabio:

      For what it’s worth, as a writer I hate adjectives for the ease with which they are overused and abused ;)

  44. Ken Volk - August 6, 2013

    I’m a late comer to this discussion, but this topic is dear to my heart. As the past owner and founder of Wild Horse Winery in Paso Robles, I certainly had the opportunity to make bank on “marketing” the concept of wild or indigenous wine ferments and I experimented with vineyard inoculums (pied de cuvee) for a number of years. Frankly, I’m happier with wines that I produce from cultured yeast strains. Unfortunately, like a lot of things in the wine business the sales and marketing departments took advantage of a romantic concept.
    Most natural and wild ferments are a combination of a number of different yeast strains that go through sequential fermentations. Quite often un- inoculated fermentations are dominated by the strain that is strongest and has the highest population in the cellar.
    The amount of micro flora in vineyards and wineries as well as in and around our bodies is astounding. For thousands of years wine, beer and bread were produced from naturally occurring yeast cultures. It was not until studies performed in the 1850’s by Louis Pasteur that it became known that yeast is responsible for the phenomenon of fermentation, which was not a long time ago. An excellent publication on yeast and other critters in the vineyard and the cellar is called Biology of Microorganisms on grapes in Must and in Wine by Helmut König, Gottfried Unden and Jürgen Fröhlich. In any case, I would like to toast to the fungus among us for the joy they bring to life.

  45. Tom Wark - August 6, 2013

    “20 posts may not be a lot to you, as you you are a professional writer and write several posts per week, but those 20 posts blasting natural wines have been read by a lot of people, and have probably had more impact on people’s opinion of natural wine, than other posts on natural wines.”

    If only this were true, it would make me very happy, Fabio.

    The propensity of “natural” wine champions to categorize wine in such a binary way (Natural vs Industrial or Natural vs Commercial) has no merit, and yet it is so common. The propensity of “Natural” wine champions to suggest that terroir is lost by the crude and manipulative methods of non-natural winemakers is insulting. And those who deny that use of the word “Natural” is just a description of the wines and not pure marketing are either lying, obtuse or ignorant.

    If only it were really true that my message was getting through.

  46. Jeremy - August 7, 2013

    Same Grape. Different Yeasts.

    Author Ann Dumont
    Issue Apr/May 2004
    The sensory profile of a wine is its calling card, its résumé and its history. The quality of a wine, and its ability to leave a lasting imprint in our memory, is the task of every winemaker and the joy of every wine drinker. With their personal experience and knowledge, winemakers will work with this raw material — the freshly harvested grapes — and try to release the full potential. Many techniques are used to accomplish this task, and one of the most powerful tools is the use of wine yeasts, carefully screened and isolated from its environment. A case study on Chardonnay reveals the impact that different yeast strains have in different grape growing regions.

    Wine sensory properties come essentially from the grape itself and where and how it was grown. They will vary according to the different treatments the wine received during fermentation, as well as during the aging process. The grape varietal precursors serve as a source of elements that will be used by the yeast in order to be transformed into aroma compounds that are perceived by the human nose.

    Yeasts differ in their potential accomplishments and each strain of yeast has unique and particular abilities to transform one precursor into one aromatic compound. Now imagine that yeasts, in all their complexity, vary in the aroma compounds they produce. The sensory properties of the wine will therefore be different.

    In order to study the potential of wine yeast strains, Lallemand conducted a study on the behavior of different Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains in making Chardonnay.

    The goal of the study was to see how those different yeasts — selected from different wine regions — would influence the sensory profiles of those wines. Would they make uniform and undifferentiated wines within the trials? Or would they rise up to the challenge and really use the different varietal precursors, which would be more or less present depending on the region, and give a unique quality wine.

    The Grape
    Chardonnay is one of the Vitis vinifera varieties of wine grapes. Sometimes called the king of the white wine varieties, it’s one of the most popular grapes with both commercial and home winemakers. It is grown in France and is the primary white varietal grown in Burgundy, where it is made into Chablis. It is also one of the primary grape varieties found in Champagne. Chardonnay is also grown in Italy, California and in many other locations.

    For home winemakers, there are plenty of kits on the market and juice is also readily available. Winemakers in grape-growing regions will likely also be able to find grapes around harvest time. The best grapes are in the 23–25 °Brix range and register 6.0–8.0 g/L of titratable acidity.

    Chardonnay wines range from big, buttery examples to crisper, more “steely” types. In the bigger, more complex Chardonnays, winemakers almost always encourage a malolactic fermentation (MLF) and age the wine in oak. One consequence of malolactic fermentationis that it yields a buttery note that blends with the oak. In the lighter style, an MLF is usually prevented and the wine is aged in stainless steel.

    The Study
    We set up worldwide winery trials using high-quality Chardonnay grapes from different wine regions of the world: Alexander Valley, California; Abruzzi, Italy; Stellenbosch, South Africa and La Rioja, Spain. We also selected different yeasts commonly used in those regions.

    At that time, we mostly had anecdotal information on the performance of each yeast strain, in terms of sensory contribution to the wines, but nothing concrete and scientific. One of the most interesting parts of this study was to solicit the help of winemakers and wine experts from each specific region where the wines were elaborated. During each tasting, the sensory panel consisted of the experts from that particular region, who, in our evaluation, represent the best panel we could have since they know their particular styles inside out. The methodology of the evaluation called for is “free-choice profiling” and with this method we were able to hold the tastings locally.

    The Results
    The first tasting was held in South Africa in the region of Stellenbosch. A winery trial was set up with three different yeast strains, and 12 winemakers were present during the tasting. The 1996 Chardonnay was then nine months old and had gone through traditional winemaking processes, but with no barrel aging or malolactic fermentation.

    The results from this tasting are very interesting. The yeast strain CY 3079, selected in Burgundy, produced a very fruity Chardonnay. On the other hand, ICV D47, another French isolate, resulted in greater complexity with both fruity and buttery aromas so typical of this type of wine. As for the EC 1118, a Champagne isolate used in different varietals, it was defined with a mixture of tropical fruit, vanilla and butter. All three wines were clearly different from one another.

    A similar trial was also held in the renowned Alexander Valley in California, again in a winery, with Chardonnay fermented by three different yeast strains. In this case, CY3079 showed some definite fruity trends, as it did in South Africa, but with more stone fruits such as peach and apricot and no citrus aromas. The ICV D47 also showed those buttery, caramel notes. But instead of citrus aromas such as those found in South Africa, it showed more spicy notes. The third sample, fermented with EC 1118, was a nice mixture of nutty, fruity and honey notes. In the Abruzzi region of Italy, with its Mediterranean climate, large-scale Chardonnay fermentations were carried out with three different yeasts. The results here differed from the South African and American wines. The wines fermented with CY3079 were fruity and spicy, with vanilla and herbal notes. The ICV D47 wines were fruity and floral, compared to the QA23, which were predominanted by tropical fruits and spices. Our final tasting was held in the La Rioja region of Spain, where the climate is a mixture of Atlantic and Mediterranean conditions, and where the white wines are usually aromatic. The large-scale winemaking was carried out with the ICV D47 and CY3079 yeast strains. We found that the ICV D47 wines were represented by vanilla and honey aromas, as well as peach. On the other hand, the CY3079 brought out the more toasty and spicy notes. This is in complete opposition with the more fruity styles that came out in the
    Italian wines.

    Conclusion
    Chardonnay is one of the most frequently planted varietals in the world. It can be found made in several styles: fresh fruit forward, barrel fermented or aged, malolactic or not, blended or not, sparkling or still. The choices are numerous and the styles vary from country to country, from region to region, and even from winery to winery. In that context, it was imperative to understand the type of sensory characteristic the Chardonnay would exhibit when fermented by premium yeast strains selected from nature.

    From the sensory profile of each wine from the different wine regions, we can see that all yeast strains, within the same winery, gave different sensory profiles. From one country to another, we could sometimes see trends (e.g., a fruitier style in South Africa and the United States with CY3079), but overall the sensory profile of each wine is unique, when evaluated by winemakers specialized in Chardonnay and confirmed by the scientific sensory method. We must keep in mind that the foremost criteria for defining a wine is the quality of the grape. The yeast that the winemaker uses is a natural tool to enhance the must precursors, and each precursor profile is unique to the regional viticulture. We can see that the yeast strains will have specific tendencies due to their particular ability to work in a specific must. For example, some strains will enhance fruitier aromas, whereas others will bring out more toasty, vanilla-like aromas. Winemakers have the ability to add the final touch through blending the fermented wines and obtaining their signature wine.

    Ann Dumont would like to thank Antonio Palacios Garcia, Gianni Trioli, Gordon Specht and Paul R. Monk for setting up the trials.

    *Thought this might be a interesting read

    • Thomas Pellechia - August 7, 2013

      Thanks. Wonder what the results would have been with a grape variety less malleable than Chardonnay.

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  49. Alice Feiring - August 13, 2013

    Tom, I’ve been in touch with the author of the research and her supervisor. I’m reading the original thesis and I’ve read the presentation. The article was more balanced than your blog post for sure, which leans to black and white. But still there were very important factors not reported in the Perdue piece and I strongly feel you are drawing wrong conclusions. Blog post coming by next Monday when I get round to it, but the only thing I can glean from this that it’s difficult to do ‘pure’ native yeast ferments side by side to those inoculated–especially under the conditions of that study. The one pull out quote from that piece that deserves more attention came from Bob Ferguson who said “Yeast companies should be concerned.”

  50. Tom Wark - August 13, 2013

    Alice:

    I was rather hoping you would have chimed in earlier. But I really look forward to your coming post.

    Here’s what I find most interesting: To what extent to the dominant commercial yeasts come to dominate the ambient yeast in established winegrowing areas?

    Again, look forward to your posts.

    But one thing, if you find my post to be “black and white” in its tone and feel the need to point that out, I only ask that you point out the same kind of black and white tone that numerous pro-”Natural” wine articles expound.

    Hope to see you soon.

    Tom…

  51. Thomas Pellechia - August 15, 2013

    If Alice–or anyone–is still reading this post, let’s suppose that Alice is correct, and the research that was done is flawed. Wouldn’t that be a good reason for those with an opposite opinion to conduct their own research project so that they can provide evidence to back up their claims?

    • Michael - August 15, 2013

      Thomas
      If you read my previous post, I sighted such research.

  52. Thomas Pellechia - August 15, 2013

    Michael,

    Unless I am misreading it, what you cited seems to substantiate that native yeast fermentation has an influence on the end product and that native yeasts do not finish the fermentation.

    The information you posted mentions but does not explain to what extent native (or local) yeasts remain “wild” and to what extent the yeast that takes over the fermentation influences the end product.

    What does Bruce Z. offer as proof that “…the extended lag phase of native fermentations contribute to the phenol polymerization due to the reaction of anthocyanins with oxygen in the absence of alcohol.” Is there a particular research project that he cites?

    These kinds of questions ought to be asked by those who believe one way or the other, and I think that is the idea behind Andy Perdue’s article.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, and whatever the research implies is what it is. As a writer, however, I wish for writers who make sweeping claims to either back them up with facts or clearly identify them as their own unsubstantiated opinions.

  53. Eder - August 19, 2013

    Are some studies in Europe? Germany, France , Italy. This post has agenda , are you working for a industrial yeast company or have you sold yeast for one of them?

  54. Tom Wark - August 19, 2013

    Eder:

    I don’t even know the name of any “industrial” yeast companies, let alone having worked for any or sold any yeast. So, that theory is out the window.

  55. Eder - August 19, 2013

    It is very funny , in my recent visit to the Mosel, I talked to a guy who used to sell industrial yeast in Germany, guess what? he enjoys the most drinking wines vinified with spontaneous fermentation. He never mentioned natural yeast is not possible….

  56. Tom Wark - August 19, 2013

    Eder:

    Yes, that is hilarious.

  57. Eder - August 19, 2013

    Maybe some friends of you own a company promoting industrial strains. You should draw conclusions after more studies are available from Europe, Lebanon and Georgia where wine has been produced with wild fermentations for thousand of years….

  58. Tom Wark - August 19, 2013

    Edar:

    Now I understand everything. It turns out that you are being paid by a consortium of wine producers that want “wild yeast” to become something people will be paid more for. Am I right? Don’t answer that. I’m obviously correct. You are just a shill. There could be no other explanation for your thoughts and opinions other than you are being paid to utter them. Shame on you.

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  60. Eder - August 20, 2013

    Not because you are paid , everyone needs to be paid… I am just a wine student that will become a wine importer. I am fully financed by my work in other industries in case you wonder. I respect the study that was performed by the university. What I dislike is your approach to make a research the absolut and ridiculous truth you want to create in your world… Read your lines: you are saying “wild yeast fermenttion does not exist”. You sound like a cheap newspaper with agenda. There are many winemakers in Europe that can drop all your futile arguments. You are taking a research made in a country where commercial strains of yeast have dominated a high percentage of winemaking and which was done in particular conditions of sulfur dioxide. When Saccharomyces cerevisiae dominate the population of yeast is as well wild fermentation as these strains have always been wild (all human mankind history). In the last decades they have been isolated to develop commercial strains. You and your people are very afraid of the piece of share that these wines are stealing from the industrial crappy wines. Although your agenda is funny to hear. It amuses me sometimes.

  61. K Goodman - October 1, 2013

    I’m late to the conversation but it’s worth noting that yeasts adapt by mutation. If a mutation is better adapted to the environment it will eventually dominate. Some beer brewers have noted that commercial yeast takes on a “house character” if propagated by the brewery long enough. If commercial strains dominate wild-wine environments then it’s likely that these yeasts are also mutants that are well adapted to their environments. This just to say that even if commercial yeasts somehow dominate wild fermentations that they are not necessarily without local and adapted character.

  62. Durkee Atwood - October 27, 2013

    Yeast research as a eukaryote model for the human cell is often refer to ‘wild’ yeast. However, this is not really wild as it is a mutant strain. Truly wild yeast cannot be used as it isn’t controllable. Using a controllable yeast in the wine making industry means that wine making is not a hit and miss affair. The wild type yeast that is found on the skins of grapes will be killed off by the ethanol produced by Saccharomyces cerevisiae as it just can’t compete. As I understand it, fermentation is then controlled by various wine making processes and techniques, preventing too high an alcohol content. The subtleties of the fruit flavour might be compromised otherwise. Aged wines completely destroys any yeast remaining after optimum fermentation anyway. However, yeast does impart some subtle pheromones and flavours and if the yeast found on the skins (wild yeast) is contributable in any way it might be for this. Then we should look at the carriers of the yeast (fruit fly) and the soil that gave the yeast its existence in the first place. All these things are variables that the wine industry is all too aware of, hence the need to select yeasts developed from genetic research so that it dominates the process in a more controlled way.
    Maybe the first wines ever produced were of natural fermentation and more than likely by the Egyptians as they had the technology to seal clay pots. But this would have been consumed before all the sugars were converted to alcohol.
    Anyway, my point is that for researchers the term ‘Wild’ does not mean truly wild type yeast.

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  67. M. - February 20, 2014

    I had read around a year ago or so that in France there are areas where the vinyard and winery owners make a pact with one another for this exact reason. Supposedly specific strains will take over an entire region quickly and are essentially impossible to eliminate.

    The results of this study certainly are eye opening. I wonder if an organization between growers should be formed here in North America.

    A point in case: I regularly make a “wild” Chardonnay from grapes grown at home every summer, but this year I opened the carboy only to notice the extremely distinct aroma of Lalvin Champagne yeast immediately. It just so happens that year that I had used it as a finishing yeast for a dry floral mead, and had discarded the spent lees in the compost less than 20 feet away!

    I’m hoping this year’s intense frost killed it off.

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