Behind the Scenes

Racking Wine: Recycling Lees in Chardonnay Winemaking

Chardonnay Winemaking Battonage

One of the vital steps to crafting a great Chardonnay involves lees, residual yeast cells that remain in contact with the wine during fermentation and aging. The lees help give Chardonnay its round mouthfeel and mild tannins.

When fermentation and aging are complete, we rack our Chardonnay from the lees, leaving the yeast cells as a by-product. Racking wine helps clarify it, removing dead yeast cell sediment and aiding stabilization. In keeping with Jordan’s philosophy of reducing, reusing and recycling whenever possible, we give our lees to a distiller who specializes in extracting the alcohol left in lees for other commercial uses.

Racking wine typically takes place in our cellars mid-December through early January. Batonnage, or stirring of the lees, occurs before racking the wine. Watch batonnage in action.


I sometimes use the lees for a second time. It seems to start faster and be ready for the secondary sooner but I have read not to do it. I just make wine from 16 frozen grape concentrate. I add only two waters per can instead of three to make the wine have a little more body but even then it isn’t even close to the body of wine made from the fruit. I also add a bottle [64 oz] of some different types of flavored juice, such as cherry or cranberry. That combined makes 5 gallons. Id like a definite answer from someone about reusing the lees because it’s not trying to save money, it’s the fact that it’s less cleanup and faster production. Thanks


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Lisa Mattson

Videographer, photographer, writer and publicist. Find me on weekends trying to capture footage of the elusive Jordan Estate jack rabbits and turkeys.

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