[A trip to Zivo Vineyard, one of my favorite days so far. It was hot, hazy and windy. The fruit was just starting to show signs of the excess beautiful weather with a bit of shrivel and high sugar levels.]
The hardest part about being here (besides being away from home) is the constant race to absorb so many wonderful experiences in the face of a compounding workload and a never-ending game of catch up. Sadly, we will catch up, we always do, and it will be right in time for me to go home.
If only we could do the same amount of work in twice the time, then would I feel like I could take the time to appreciate every moment. I don’t think there really is anything quite like a wine harvest. There is nothing concrete, it’s variable and ever changing, and trying to make a plan is almost laughable. Every day is a blind curve, and it’s that reason alone that makes wine such a unique and fluid expression of time, place, people, and energy. We often don’t know what we have until long after decisions have been made and expectations have been either dashed or confirmed.
[Three Pinots: Noir, Blanc, and Gris. You can see a touch of sunburn on the Blanc (center), but overall the quality of the fruit is exceptional.]
[Poverty Bend Vineyard. Winemaker Michael Lundeen's Pinot Noir Vineyard on harvest day. I was lucky to be able to pick this vineyard last year as well. 2012 is going to be exciting for this site, the fruit is rich, developed, and nicely structured. Because ripening wasn't an issue this year, Michael bet on higher crop yields and a denser leaf canopy paying off. The clusters are small, clean and a decision to allow more clusters per vine yielded fruit with a slightly lower sugar level, exactly what you would want in this hot year.]
Processing whole cluster, Pinot Noir cold soaks. Layering the fruit with dry ice brings down the temperature and delays fermentation while flavor, color and tannin extracts from the skins:
[A winery full of dry ice vapor, a bit like a snow day.]
Poverty Bend Vineyard harvest, day 2. You can see a bit of shrivel on some of the grapes, just a few per cluster, but those dehydrated berries can raise overall sugar levels higher than desired if picking is delayed too long:
Goldie and I were best buds last year. The relentless snuggler! It took her a few minutes to remember me, but once she did, I had my shadow back. Every vineyard needs a trusty cat to control the root-eating rodent population!
[Juice samples packed up and ready to take to the lab.]
[This is how we make Pinot Noir, open-top, 1 and 1/4 ton fermenters. The fruit is either destemmed or added whole cluster to the bins where they will soak and ferment until the wine is pumped out and skins pressed. Ferments can either be carried out naturally, 'native', with naturally occurring yeast, or we can inoculate the fruit with commercial strains of yeast. Both have advantages, but in a ripe, sugar rich year like 2012, natural ferments can be more difficult and prone to problems, so we do fewer of them.]