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September 30, 2007
Back From Harvest, But Still Crushing
filed under: Ramblings
It's been such a busy week with the impending book launch that I've hardly had a moment to jot down some thoughts and share pics from my AMAZING trip to Sonoma. It's rare that I take a break from work, and I definitely don't get out of the city enough, so when a winemaker friend invited me to go picking and shadow him for a few days during harvest (that's "crush" to the locals), I jumped at the opportunity.
Fresh back, I have to say that harvest is one of the most exhausting - and rejuvenating - times of the year in wine country...
I'll be writing about my experiences in more detail in an upcoming piece for WineCountry.com called "Diary of a Crush", so for now I'll just throw out a few highlights, as well as this link to a great slideshow of shots from my trip:
- Getting up at 5am to pick grapes sounds terrible but is actually fun - especially when there's hot coffee waiting for you and the promise of a cold beer when the picking's done.
- Making wine is, like, 80% about cleaning things. I spent a lot more time hosing down various bins and presses than I did actually working with the good stuff.
- Sorting grapes before they head into the crusher/destemmer is a high-pressure job. The grapes whiz by you on a conveyer belt and you have to make split-second decisions about what SHOULDN'T be there. Fortunately, I was stationed next to the speed dial, so I got to slow things down while I got the hang of it. What I DIDN'T get used to were the bugs and spiders and hornets that were crawling around with the grapes! Still can't believe I didn't get stung.
- Pumping down the caps on the top of wine in fermentation tanks is hard work - even with a pneumatic press. I nearly fell into the tank on my first go at it, but quickly recovered and was thrilled that no one apparently saw.
- Burberry is NOT the best brand to wear in wine country during crush. On second thought, any clothing you value in the slightest should be left at home. At least I'll know that for next year.
- It feels GOOD to sit down at the end of a long day during harvest. As in, REALLY REALLY GOOD. You feel like you earned it - and then some.
- I'm totally crushing on wine country - way more than ever before. Can't you tell?