Diary of a Cellar Rat: Harvest is Done

Wait let me get this straight, Californians elected Jerry Brown governor and to keep weed illegal?

Is it 1974?

Coming back to the real world after harvest is a little odd. You find yourself with the luxury of a two day weekend and with an enormous amount of free time. My hands are little by little losing the the dark, almost black, stain of wine. However, the heavy base and caustic chemicals we use in the celler as well as the natural solvent alcohol still has them dried out, cracking and occasionally bleeding.

Ah this new career, my delicate hands used to just ply a computer, now they are cracked, calloused and gnarly.

But we got all the grapes in, and it will be an interesting vintage. The cool summer and storms in late October forced some winemakers to pick before they were entirely sure about ripeness. The result could be “greener” wines that don’t have all the ripe dark fruit flavors California wines are known for, but more vegetal, bell pepper notes. This past growing season has been charitably referred to as Bordeux like, but who knows.

My role this vintage was a mix of lab work, celler grunt work and a little bit of logistical and administrative work. Some days at the height of harvest, I’d spend about 12 and half hours of work in the celler working on yeast innoculations, additions, must adjustments, pumpovers and fermentation checks. After all that, it would be back to the lab to enter the data as well as check my e-mail for any pick specification sheets. I would have to save these into a database and then update the producation winery’s calendar for receiving fruit and then generate a crush work order for processing the fruit. Just another 14 hour day.

The challenge this year was that in addition to the tough physical work I had to also remember to have a cover page on my TPS reports.

It was a great learning experience, and I’m looking forward to a more regular routine at the winery to build on my knowledge.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there, and it’s going to be nice to return back to the real world and get back to The Uncorked Life.

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