October 05, 2007

Pressing in the sunshine

Spent the afternoon in Yamhill county today. First a visit to Wahle vineyard, where the grapes look really good. That is, aside from a few patches where the clusters have "hens and chicks," meaning large and small berries in the same cluster. The small berries often don't have seeds and, in rainy weather, easily turn to mush that tastes a bit like vinegar and is a siren for rot. Happily, in the many vineyard rows I traversed and clusters I examined up close, I found only one bit of rot. But there are some bad clusters that I'll need to sort out after picking. The grapes look good enough that I'd like to hold off picking as long as I can. Unfortunately, we expect more rain this weekend and on and off rain next week. We'll see how long I can hold out. Leaving the vineyard, I took a moment to check out the view across the valley to the coast range, sunlight streaming though broken clouds scattered across the sky.

Then over to the winery, pressing syrah outside in the sunshine. We drained the new wine from three 1.5 ton bins, bringing the bins down to the press where I literally got in with my boots and scooped out the grape pomace into the 3 ton bladder press. The aroma, the squishing and sloshing, the phyical labor of bucketing and heaving fermented grapes. It's hard work, but very satisfying.

Once we're done, we cleaned everything and went inside to add dry ice to bins full of soaking grapes, then I got up on the 2x12 board and punched down about a dozen bins full or nearly overfull with fermenting grapes. Again, hard but satisfying work. A quick clean up and I was gone by 6pm, pretty early by harvest standards.

This morning I talked to my chardonnay grower. I'm only getting a couple hundred pounds to make some early drinking, crisp white wine. Apparently we're at least a week away from harvesting, so what might have been a big harvest weekend for my homebrewing ends up getting put off for a while.

No tasting notes tonight. However, I did enjoy two samples from the winery where I'm working. More on that after harvest.

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