Once fermentation has begun you need to punchdown the grape skins from the top of the must into the liquid. This will allow the color and flavor of the skins to mix with the wine during fermentation. This is done 2-3 times per day. When fermentation starts there are few skins on the top and then as it is in full swing 4″ of skins float on the top. Finally, when fermentation is complete the skins barely float on the surface.
After we picked our wonderful Pinot Noir the fermentation process begins. First you place whole clusters to the bottom of your fermentation vessel. Next you dump the picking lugs full of grapes into a distemmer and sort out any leaves or stems. Fun but messy!
Since Pinot Noir has thin skin, you need to cold soak the grapes for 4-6 days and keep the must below 50F to prevent fermentation from starting. This will allow the colors to be released from the skin. With most other grapes this is not necessary.