Monday, September 15, 2008

Stef's Version of the Weekend

The winery weekend started on Friday. We spent the entire day cleaning. Everything. Top to bottom, every nook and cranny. Wiped, washed, disinfected, scrubbed, and cleaned. It was a long day, but worth every minute of elbow grease - the winery sparkled when we left.

Saturday started an hour earlier. At 7:30 Gerardo (Jerry) showed up and got started taking nets off the vines out front. Paul joined him while I printed new labels for the net bags. While they were harvesting and taking care of their work, I was in the winery office emptying out my desk in anticipation of the delivery of the new work station.

The new work station arrived, it was assembled, and off we went to the Ottigurr Vineyard to harvest. By 10a.m. we were loaded up and mobile to the winery with the first batch of grapes.

In years past this first lot would be crushed by foot, but Paul wanted to run everything thru the equipment and make sure we were set for the bigger lots that are due in soon. The clean up took longer than the actual processing time, but it's still good practice.

We sent Kathy and Millie back down the hill to Home Depot for two storage cabinets for the Dry Room and sandwiches. While they were gone, Paul and Jerry started racking the 07's and I did the lab work. I calculated pH and TA numbers for the estate chardonnay and mixed the sulfur solutions needed for racking.

I don't prefer working with sulfur, the fine powder gets in my hair, on my clothes and up my nose. Most annoying of all is the effect it has on my palate for the next day or so. Drinking wine is worthless after a day in the lab - everything tastes like "bottle shock" to me. For anyone that suffers from allergens or similar work dust, I recommend using a neti pot.

Around 1 the sandwiches showed up - and the five of us ate in mini shifts, half of a sandwich at a time while the wine was either on its way in to the tank or back into the barrel. All told I think we sat down for maybe 30 minutes the whole day. Three of us worked the entire day in the Wet Room, two of us spent the day in the Dry Room.

I was completely exhausted by the time we finished putting away the last clean bucket, moved into the new cabinets, and turned off the lights at 4:30.

Normally we'll play with Sophie or Jesse (the vineyard dogs) for a few minutes at a time, or take a break to water the garden (dying tomatoes, sad corn), or even just to rest and get some water in us and catch our breath. Not on Saturday. If we had stopped at all and interrupted the momentum of the tasks at hand the day would have lingered well past 11 hours, and when you're working with heavy equipment, fatigue is almost as dangerous as being drunk.

Thank goodness for football season. We worked all day long again on Sunday, but sitting at a desk printing, signing, folding, and stuffing envelopes isn't exactly strenuous work and can be done perched in front of the tv.

And those are my thoughts on the first weekend of harvest. Cheers.

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