53 degrees, 7:06 AM, we're off for another day. We had a few pit stops to make before meeting up with the crew. They started picking at 7:30, we arrived with the bins about 8:20.
Stefania in the quality control position. Perched on the truck, removing any leafs or debris as the bins get dumped. We used the core picking team today. Just four people and me and Stef, so quality was high.
This section is Merlot, further down the hill is Cabernet Sauvignon. They actually get ripe at the same time on this site. An unusual situation caused by some shading in the Merlot, and the aspect of the Cabernet section. Usually the two grapes get ripe 2-3 weeks apart.
We just about filled up two complete bins. One of the fun things to do is jump up and down on the tailgate of the truck to get the grapes to compact down some.
Arriving at Chaine d'Or to process the grapes. Jerry and his brother Isidro have done this a couple times now, and they need no supervision from me on getting all the equipment set up. That lets me focus on the must entering the bin, taking measurements and overseeing the pump and crusher.
This is a little unusual process. Since we don't have a forklift, we don't dump the entire bin at once into the crusher. Instead we remove the grapes in 30 pound bins and dump them in slowly. You put two people in the truck, one on the tailgate to dump, and me down below running the equipment.
We then pump the must into a waiting fermentation bin. This is one reason we do so much quality control in the vineyard. There's not a sorting tray here to check the grapes. We have to make sure they arrive clean and problem free.
Once we finished the Elandrich fruit, we picked the Merlot section at Chaine d'Or. Just 8 bins this year, about 250 lbs. It will be 3 more weeks until we harvest the Cabernet it looks like. The Merlot will start off first in a small bin.
We sent the crew home about 1:00 PM. Stefania and I stayed to rack the Chardonnay down. It is almost done fermenting and we went from 6 2/3 full barrels to 4 full barrels. As it ferments you need the empty space to prevent explosions, but as it finishes, the bubbling is gentle enough to use a valve on the barrel bung, that will let gas escape.
Tomorrow we're back down to the Woodruff Family vineyard to pick the last of the Chardonnay there for the Storrs winery.