Winery variables make for interesting and challenging experiences. The destemmer at one place leaves too many stems in the berries unless you jerry-rig it with twine. The press at another doesn’t have a place to connect a stainless steel connector for the hoses that bring the juice or wine to the next phase in the process. A forklift without a barrel roll makes for lots of manual labor loading and unloading fruit. Space constraints, no drains in the floor, small doors, and many other miscellaneous differences have come to my attention in the many small places I have been able to participate in this year’s crush.
On the other hand, these small wineries seem to have a very connected and strongly supportive group of people who ensure that all the work gets done for everyone when it needs to. The bit larger wineries tend to have more technical machines with more bells and whistles – sometimes this equipment is made available to smaller wine makers and the cycle of support is perpetuated. On many occasions I have heard the term ‘incestuous’ used to describe this connectedness – at this point I disagree with the term because it implies a disfunction that isn’t visible to me. Time will tell.
I spent the morning shoveling the dredges of wine and skins/seeds/stems from a bin into a press and from the ground beneath the press into another bin when it was dry. I was there to help and learn and I appreciate the support that I had; with just the two of us, I worked the press on my own, something that I haven’t had the opportunity to do at College Cellars with so many students cycling through. I have been able to stretch my experiences into the reality of the local industry and feel very fortunate because of it. Crush isn’t yet finished for the year, so I look forward to more opportunities!