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.
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.
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.
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.
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.