My life was good, maybe even perfect…but I got bit hard by the whole wine thing. I was a happy, successful medical professional and I just couldn’t be satisfied with the answers to my questions given to me in the tasting rooms….oh, no…I had to learn more…had to know more. Here I am, a middle aged woman, completing a degree in Wine Making doing an Internship at a Russian River winery…and this is how it goes…
Week 1 – What I learned:
- Preparations for harvest are as serious as the impending harvest.
- You have to get organized. We spent all day, ALL DAY reorganizing the cellar. We moved stacks of barrel racks, each carrying 6 full barrels of wine holding 60 gallons, outside. We rearranged them, and then moved them all back inside. This put all the empty barrels in one place, all the wine still aging in barrels at the back, and all the wine to be bottled soon, up front. At the end of the day no one but us would have been able to tell the difference. I thought it was gorgeous!
- Pressure washing is loads of fun! There is a sort of POWER derived from pressure washing. I pressure washed all day…I washed the destemmer, the filter, multiple fermenters of various sizes, holding tanks, and last but not least LOTS of FYB’s (fu#%ing yellow bins). There is a reason they bear this name.
- Don’t put off what you can do today. In the shadow of harvest it is not uncommon to bottle what you can bottle, as you won’t be able to do much of anything to older vintages once harvest begins. The toddlers will be on their own for a few months. To that end, we racked Chardonnay into tank, let it settle, lightly filtered it into another tank where it will wait for bottling next week.
- Harvest truly is right around the corner. I was asked to pull a grape berry sample from the estate vineyard. This involves walking down the vine rows and doing your very best to pull a random sample of about 100 grapes. You want to pick berries from the top, middle, and bottom of different clusters as you walk down the row. You can’t just pick the ones you would like to eat! Once picked they are crushed all together and a sugar reading is taken. It was close to being right where our winemaker wants it. What does this mean? We may be processing grapes right alongside all that bottling!