From vineyard to vat

Street lights and sunrise on our Merlot picking morning.
Street lights and sunrise on our Merlot picking morning.
The professional pickers were geared up and moving while we were still getting into the vines.
The professional pickers were geared up and moving while we were still getting into the vines.

We finished yesterday in the vineyard unclipping Merlot and Malbec vines, about 24 long rows.  Most of the class turned out and the job was finished within the hour.  With a lovely pink sunrise to the southeast and the streetlights still burning, there were professional pickers and our class in the vines to pick.  We had three row of Merlot to pick and the professional pickers were doing the rest.  No contest, they are way faster than we are; our paltry three rows took us a very long time to complete compared to their rate of picking.

The Gator with a bin in the back went down the row with us.
The Gator with a bin in the back went down the row with us.
Gathering the full bins to dump into the Gator when it came around.
Gathering the full bins to dump into the Gator when it came around.

Usually we have to carry our picking bins to the end of the row and dump them way up into the bins on the flatbed truck.  This time through, the JD Gator had a bin on the back and it went with us through the row.  That was much nicer, lower to dump into, no time lost walking up and down the row… but only one bin fit on the Gator.  Two people had to ride in the front of it with such a heavy bin behind.  While they were gone we spread the rest of the picking bins out where we still needed to pick and kept going.  When the Gator returned with an empty bin we were just picking the last of the berries from the last row.

Some of the grapes were through the netting, the birds feasted on all they could reach.
Some of the grapes were through the netting, the birds feasted on all they could reach.
This second bin wasn't quite as full as the first one.
This second bin wasn’t quite as full as the first one.

 

 

 

 

The first Merlot grapes coming up the conveyor to the Optical Sorter were nice and clean.
The first Merlot grapes coming up the conveyor to the Optical Sorter were nice and clean.

Back at the cellar equipment was being set up and cleaned/sanitized and readied for the many tons of grapes that would be processed today.  I arrived just in time to step up to the base of the optical sorting conveyor to do a preliminary sort: the Merlot grapes that our group will be responsible for were up first.  Mourvedre followed and Malbec stopped everything where it was; take home lesson was to not put the Malbec through the Optical Sorter.  Destemming proceeded while the Optical Sorter was cleaned and sanitized.  If the preliminary numbers hold, we anticipated thirteen tons of grapes for today’s processing.  To this point we had seventeen tons through the cellar in the previous weeks.

Miguel taking in the processed Merlot.
Miguel taking in the processed Merlot.
Merlot juice now, quite light with some good color developing already.
Merlot juice now, quite light with some good color developing already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim moved each of the puncheons from the truck without the forklift!  He apparently doesn't get enough exercise during crush.
Tim moved each of the puncheons from the truck without the forklift! He apparently doesn’t get enough exercise during crush.

Zinfandel grapes arrived from the Hood River area late this afternoon, about the same time the two Russian Oak puncheons arrived.  One of those puncheons is destined to have about half of our Syrah wine while the other half ages in a neutral American Oak puncheon.  I will get to school on the earlier side in the morning to paint the remaining puncheons (five left now) so they have time to dry.  Monday is the likely time we will move the Syrah from the poly tank into the oak since there is still so much going on right now.

Far more frothing at the top of the carboy indicated a very rapid ferment that needed to be cooled down.
Far more frothing at the top of the carboy indicated a very rapid ferment that needed to be cooled down.

When we went into the lab to check on the Viognier it was fermenting rapidly; frothing on top and popping bubbles through the airlock at breakneck speed.  Checking the T’s & B’s (temperature and Brix) indicated we might have a runaway horse on our hands!  A brief discussion with our group said moving the wine to a cooler location was good; it is now in the cellar proper.  Since we used a slower starting yeast it is good to see it get going so nicely already.

Entwine, the fundraiser for Culinary and EV scholarships, is this weekend.  Posted on the window this afternoon were all of the jobs and groups we were scheduled for.  Tomorrow night is the informative meeting that will give us the details of our jobs.

2 thoughts on “From vineyard to vat

  1. I love the lush appearance of the grapes. It must have been quite beautiful out there this morning with that flamboyant pink/blue sunrise we had here in this paradisaical valley.

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