Newsletter November 2008
The end of harvest is a lot like the end of a great party
The house lights are coming on. The band is packing up. Folks are shuffling slowly towards the door.
The end of harvest is a lot like the end of a great party. We have transitioned from anticipation and preparation to the frenetic merriment of the event itself, and are now recovering from the dreaded post-party letdown.
The 2008 vintage will be remembered as a tiny but fast and furious one, and one in which we were immensely thankful to have our own purpose-built winery. The flavors and tannins of a large portion of our crop ripened during a 10-day window ending around the middle of September. Although we had installed what appeared to be, as James put it, a “recklessly large number” of special small open-top Pinot fermentors (as opposed to fewer and less costly larger tanks), by the end of our window, every last one was full and we were feeling exponentially less reckless.
All of the Pinot noirs have completed primary fermentation (the conversion of sugars to ethanol, heat & carbon dioxide). Many of the Chardonnay barrels are still moving along slowly as the yeast populations indigenous to our grapes, equipment and barrels tend to take their sweet time with the process, but these will finish soon as well.
James has set a goal of completing all of the blends for the 2008 wines by the end of the calendar year, at which point we will encourage malolactic fermentation in each barrel. Once that step is complete, the wines will go into hibernation on their lees until late Spring, when we will rouse them from their slumber and begin to prepare them for bottling.
In the meantime, we are trying to get re-accustomed to working a measly five days a week, spending time with our families in the evenings and subsisting on things other than coffee, grapes, and various junk foods washed down with the occasional ale. It can be difficult to re-enter the outside world, but we should be re-oriented just in time for the harvest of 2009.
Here’s hoping everyone has a wonderful holiday season.