Journey: Thoughts and Reflections along the path. 

Sheldon Haynie
 
October 18, 2013 | Sheldon Haynie

Wrapping it up

Our fourth commercial crush, and its been a big stretch. Last year we harvested and processed about 20 tons of fruit from 6 vineyards, selling a little here and there to home winemakers and trading for some cabernet. This year we harvested 64 tons and processed over 40 from 8, selling to home winemakers and several commercial wineries, all with the same basic crush equipment our 4 year old hobby model destemmer, a few pumps and the two Speidel 180l bladder presses

We harvested Alicante, Barbera, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Colombard, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Merlot (3 vineyards), Mourvedre, Petite Sirah (2 Vineyards), Rousanne, Syrah (3 vineyards), Tempranillo and bought Pinot (2 clones) and Chardonnay from Carneros. 

Our only capital addition this year was a variable speed pump, easing barrel filling as it has a remote control that lets a person stand at the barrel and manage the pump, freeing up a body to do something else other than man the switch. 

We started harvest on Sept 6 on the Athena's Vineyard Merlot  and picked our last fruit Petite Sirah from the Chirala Vineyard on the morning of October 6th. Overall is about 3 weeks earlier than last year due to warmer weather during the spring and summer.  At times we had three crews working in separate vineyards, and had to rent a flatbed truck and extra RTV to keep up.

Seeing a 16 man professional labor crew from Quality farm labor picking 8 tons in 4 hours was a bit daunting, they literally were picking faster than we could load the 1000 lb bins onto the flat bed for a while. 

It was all assisted and made possible by good help; our employees who worked to support the pick crews, our intern Filipe who's looking at post high tech business choices, and of course the pickers. A hearty thanks to all, looking back it seems a blur, moving equipment, bins and people around the south county in the dark to setup for picks and driving fruit to Bonny Doon and Watsonville. 

We are finishing up pressing over the next weeks, with our wines having had a prolonged maceration & soak and slower fermentation by intention. This year Jane is trying to limit the maximum temperatures to preserve more of the aromatics, so the reduced amount of yeast takes longer to convert the sugars to alcohol as it has to reproduce more generations,  and the heat released is spread out over a longer time. 

 

 

 

 

We've had to restack our barrels to fit all of the new wines, going to a pyramid or hexagonal stacking, where the barrels are sitting in alternating positions as shown on the left. We need the extra space as we crushed about 80 barrels worth this year and have a 600 sq ft space to fit it all. Sort of like playing Tetris with 500lb blocks at racking time.  had to restack our barrels to fit all of the new wines, going to a pyramid or hexagonal stacking, where the barrels are sitting in alternating positions as shown on the left. We need the extra space as we crushed about 80 barrels worth this year and have a 600 sq ft space to fit it all. Sort of like playing Tetris with 500lb blocks at racking time. ​

 

 

 

Doing this sort of thing in your late 50's is that duality of being amazed that you can, and amazed/resentful that you need to, It really has highlighted the amount of brute labor needed, to move bins, shovel fruit and toss barrels around. 

 

Fortunately we will be buying a used forklift that might actually be able to fit into the barrel room. Our neighbor to the west is shutting down his feed store and has an old Navy Surplus lift truck, Its not pretty, but we can fix that easy enough with some paint and a new seat. Rumors of "Lightheart Pink" have been floated. (see racks above) 

As we wrap up Crush, and our aches fade, we'll have the satisfaction of lots of new wines to cellar and bring to release. We're very excited about the new varietals, and the vineyards we have been tending are coming up in quality and yield. 

 

 

Time Posted: Oct 18, 2013 at 6:31 AM