It is an accumulation of hours and days spent tending the vineyard. It is thousands and thousands of footsteps taken through the rows of vines with care. It is the weather and how it behaved throughout the year. It is the vines, and how themselves continue to grow and mature. It is how the grape clusters formed and dangled effortlessly from the vine. It is the end of our fourth growing season, and beginning of our second harvest. Every year is different, and what makes every vintage its own personality. It is our 2009 vintage. Consequently, there are high spirits on harvest day.
With an army of enthusiastic volunteers, armed with garden clippers, we all assemble to get hands-on instructions, and hear a blessing for this harvest. Last year's "Harvest Blessing" brought us great grape-growing weather, and beautiful grape clusters. In the photo above, our just-harvested grapes look so beautiful and luscious, you just know they taste delectable and are going to become a very drinkable and desirable wine.
We suggest to our volunteers to find a row partner, and harvest a row together. In 5 gallon clean buckets the grape clusters are carefully clipped off of the vines and dropped into the buckets. When the bucket is full, the bucket is brought up to the sorting table and crusher/destemmer area. Grape clusters are spread out on a large table and carefully checked for an undesirable grapes or clusters. The sorted grapes are then collected in a 40 lb lug, and dumped into the crusher/destemmer and augured to gently seperate the green stems and break open the grapes. This process creates a thick mixture of grape skins, seeds, and now juice.
This mixture is then poured into food grade plastic barrels, and cooled down with dry ice to mid 50 degrees F. The next day, it is brought back to room temperature, and the desired yeast is added to start the fermentation process.
Once all of the grapes have been processed, all of your equipment must be thoroughly cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized for their next use. This is one of the cardinal rules of wine making, always thoroughly clean and sanitize your grape processing equipment immediately after use.
With the grapes mixture carefully taken care of for the day, the "harvest feast" can begin in earnest, and everyone can rejoice in the newly harvested grapes which will become "vintage 2009". It is a time of celebration and high spirits.
Have you ever been to a vineyard harvest, and vineyard feast? Do you ever think about all that went into the making of a wine, when sipping wine from your glass?