Juggling grapes

Carmenere grapes are a dusty blue, semi-loose cluster.
Carmenere grapes are a dusty blue, semi-loose cluster.

Friday and we had to cram a lot of work into this one day: first thing, we picked the Carmenere from the Stan Clarke Vineyard.  I was dressed to stay warm since I tend to get cold rapidly, but half way through my two-plus-hour picking I shed my Carhartt jacket and realized I had probably over dressed for the day.  I was plenty warm.  Apparently we are getting better at harvesting grapes because we had all six rows picked by 9:20 this morning; just over two tons!

Last bin of Chardonnay grapes going into the press this morning.
Last bin of Chardonnay grapes going into the press this morning.

Back at the crush pad the destemmer and Optical Sorter were all set up and ready to go.  But we were quicker than anticipated and the Chardonnay grapes that came in yesterday afternoon were still in the press, so we helped finish and clean up before getting to the morning’s pick.

Large dumpster for our grape debris.
Large dumpster for our grape debris.

There is a large disposal bin up the hill from the crush pad, at the edge of the parking lot.  This is where the stems, skins, seeds and other debris from processing the grapes go.  It is a favorite hangout for the wasps and hornets, but during the last several weeks what is in there has been fermenting itself and the very pungent odor of vinegar lets you know when you are close to that bin.  We pass it every time we leave or return to the Enology and Viticulture building.  Learning how to prevent this natural fermentation is part of learning how to control the wine making process so we end up with the product we want.

The pine tree lined walk after the dumpster smells much better.
The pine tree lined walk after the dumpster smells much better.

Soils class begins at 12:30, we had the Carmenere destemmed and sorted by 12:15.  I did a punch down on the Syrah in that time too.  In fact, I broke the hydrometer with my slippery fingers, so I had to run up to the car to grab mine to complete the Brix testing for that punch down.  My hydrometer replaced the one that was there at the school, so I need to replace it ASAP since my wines here at home need me to check on them too.  Clean up wasn’t done, but most of us had to get to class.

Having been on the sorting end of the Optical Sorter I was covered from the top of my head to the soles of my shoes in Carmenere pulp and juice.  The hornets loved me and made me crazy landing on my hair and neck, sweater and jeans.  Naturally, our soils class was outside most of the time, which wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be with the insects.

I was asked to help at one of the small wineries I have been to during crush; so I was just going to get sticky again.  Right after class I drove out to the one I thought it was to discover things buttoned up tight and tidy as can be – no destemming Syrah there.  I had to drive back into phone service to call and ask where I had gone wrong.  It was long enough later when I got a return call telling me where that I didn’t go over to help; thankfully they had additional help there already.  A hot bath, icy hot and some Tylenol were on my immediate agenda – as is a fun, relaxing weekend with my equally harvest-weary husband.

Just a quick comparison of the Optical Sorter experience today.  The percentage of discarded grapes was much higher than the 5% from the Sangiovese, but I don’t have an actual number today.  The machine seems to have the color green down well, but only if it is of a particular size.  Purples and violets are less well-defined or we wouldn’t have had as much discarded as we did.

Accepted by the Optical Sorter: Carmenere
Accepted by the Optical Sorter: Carmenere
Unaccepted by the Optical Sorter: Carmenere
Unaccepted by the Optical Sorter: Carmenere

 

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