Oktoberfest during Harvest

Last Saturday began the 183rd Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, it will go until the 3rd of October.  Thousands of people converge on the city to imbibe, eat and party together while the rest of the world celebrates where ever they are.  It is funny to me that a royal wedding celebration in 1810 for then Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen sparked such a tremendous festival for the people that has a huge presence today.  Last November we were in Germany for a week of business followed by another of personal touring.  Oktoberfest was a memory by that time, so we didn’t search out the ‘Wiesn (field) but we were only a few blocks away from it.  Disease and war prevented some Oktoberfest celebrations; barring any further catastrophes 17 years from now will be the 200th celebration in which Hubby and I hope to participate first hand.

We flew into Munich from Berlin Sunday morning, where we had wished our fellow business travelers safe flights.  The Friday, November 13 2015 Paris attacks were to leave many of our group stranded in the locked-down security of the Paris Airport for a day or two before they could make their way safely home.

The train ride from the airport to Munich’s Hauptbahnhof and walk of a few blocks to the hotel and we were ready to get out and explore. (I am intrigued by the bicycle culture throughout Germany, please indulge the pictures.)  Had we turned west we would have walked toward the Theresienwiese and the Oktoberfest grounds, but we went east and wandered through Marienplatz, Munich’s main square.  The ancient buildings both spared and restored after the WWII bombings and the modern architecture were decked with holiday splendor.  The Christmas Village was nearly complete and vendors were selling roasted chestnuts (die Marone) and citrus that smelled divine.  We went into St Michael’s, a historic Jesuit church, as there was a service in progress.  It was as breathtaking inside as I expected.  Here is a wikipic to show you the High Alter: here.  We took no photos inside as that would have been highly inappropriate.

Monday we participated in a walking tour of Hitler’s Munich, Third Reich guided by Sabri Ben Ltaief (also a photographer).  It was fascinating to step through time to experience the  streets and buildings that we had walked along the night before as they related to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and their fate during WWII.  Hubby and I chose to take the second part of the tour to discover none of the other eight tour participants did.  Sabri went with us to lunch and we walked with him to his job at the University Library; he pointed out the  landmarks and points of interest that would have comprised the second tour.  What a terrific way to begin our vacation week!

Hofbrauhaus swag in the historical brewery.
Not Oktoberfest in the Hofbrauhaus of Munich, Germany. But you can still purchase beer related swag.

No visit to Munich and Marienplatz is complete without going to the Hofbrauhaus.  (This is the Oktoberfest tent.)  Founded in 1589 by then Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V., to introduce a quality, affordable brown beer for his family’s consumption.  The second brewing was built in 1607 by Wilhelm’s son, Maximillian I, for his burgeoning wheat (whit or white) beer production and the building was thus white.  In 1806, when Bavaria became a Kingdom, the ruling family became royalty, therefore Hofbrauhaus or ‘Royal Brown House’. In 1828, 18 years after his royal wedding, King Ludwig I decreed the royal beer could be consumed by commoners, but it was the transition of the brewing facility to a new location and the Hofbrauhaus restaurant and hall refurbished in 1897 that became the hall we recognize.   Bombing raids in WWII destroyed most of the building 1944-45; it took until 1958 for the Hofbrauhaus renovations to be completed, this is where we sat in 2015.  If you want to know some of the historical highlights of the worlds most famous brewery, here you go.

Sipping beer and  sharing a pretzel, an authentic Bavarian pretzel, soft on the inside with a crunchy crust and just a bit of salt, as we took in the details of the hall and listened to the brass band gave us pause to consider and discuss the significance of our history lesson that day.  No person or point in time is isolated, we all feel the ripples and choke on the waves of bad decisions as much as we float on the good decisions of those that precede and surround us.  The beer was good; the experience was terrific.

Hofbrau Dunkel in a bottle.
Oktoberfest 2016 distributed to a local grocery: Hofbrau Dunkel in a bottle.

This week, having procured a six pack of Hofbrau Dunkel, we are participating in Oktoberfest quietly, at home, after our respective harvest work.  This is the original brown beer, the one that started it all for the ruling family of Bavaria in the late 1500’s.  Yup, Hofbrau beer is now distributed far and wide, for all the common folk.  I thought about attempting to make traditional pretzels, but I will wait for the holidays to do so.  Bottled is not as good as draft, that said, this is it – a smooth, nutty beer with a bit of baking spices to keep it interesting.

We brought in just over 10 tons of fruit this week, Dolcetto and Cabernet Sauvignon.  We also pressed 2 tons of Chardonnay for Basalt Cellars (and here).  We are now half way through 2016 Crush by ton.  Cheers!

Red, White and Smoking

Once the Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes came in (both on the 9th, not staggered like planned) we didn’t harvest anything else this week.  The cooler temperatures over the last couple of weeks slowed ripening enough to make us put off bringing in more grapes.  Between this enforced plodding pace, some might call it a sane pace, and having a WWCC EV intern with us this year there is much less action on the harvest front.  All good, but I am a bit antsy as I look forward to the rapid-fire, hard work of harvest each year and it isn’t happening so far.  Note, I took video of the Pinot Noir crush for you since I wasn’t the one on the ladder.

Foot Stomped Pinot Noir.
1/3 of the Breezy Slope Pinot Noir grapes were foot stomped and fermented with the rachises for Lagana Cellars.

I did work a ‘Cigarbeque’ on Sunday evening selling cigars for Locati Cellars during a delicious barbecue put on by Chef Nathan Carlson (whose day-job, if you will, is at Cameo Heights Mansion outside of Touchet).  The humidor in Locati Cellars is carefully stocked by Nathan.  My previous experiences told me once a cigar was lit, I wanted nothing to do with it.  Jason, owner of Viva Republica, and Ed, rep out of Portland, were on hand to answer questions about their wares, like when and why to choose a cigar.  Then smelling the different smoke as people lit up brought about a whole different understanding for me.  As with wine, tea and food, quality ingredients means quality experience.  I have no intention of taking up smoking cigars (nor do I encourage you to), but at least now I have a bit better idea of what someone who enjoys it is after.  The following day the t-shirt I wore smelled like a good cigar rather than acrid smoke (good = pleasant smelling).


Nathan, remembering my food allergies, left a rack of ribs unglazed for me (thank you Nathan).  It tasted fabulous, super smokey and just right with the cigars actually.  When we were leaving he wrapped the remaining ribs up and sent them home with us.  I picked at it for a couple of days before deciding to chop up the meat (bones in the freezer broth bag) and make my dearest Hubby a pot of chili; there were a few tomatoes that needed to be used too which was ideal for this.

Smoked Chili

  • 2 lb smoked meat (beef, pork, chicken), cubed
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 sweet bell pepper coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb fresh tomatoes chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons dried red pepper (we grew Anaheims that I dried)
  • 2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, to taste

Chop all of your vegetables and the meat. Open, drain and rinse the two cans of beans. In a dutch oven or stock pot, saute’ the onions to translucent, add the bell pepper until fragrant, and toss in the tomato pieces.  With the heat on medium low, add the meat, beans, seasonings and enough liquid to ensure nothing will stick or to make the chili more soupy as you prefer.  Toss well, heat to low and cover to cook for an hour.  I remove the cover and cook another half hour to reduce the liquid and thicken it.  Then, while it is still warm, I add the horseradish and stir it in to warm and release its bite.

Serve it with corn bread, over burgers, rice or potatoes.  Top it with fresh onion, sour cream and cheese, or what ever you usually do.  Try it with a smokey red wine of your choice.

We have some mid-high eighties temperatures for almost a week; Dolcetto and Cabernet Sauvignon are slated to come in Saturday and Tuesday respectively; about nine tons of fruit for this week between those two grapes.  Actually a good number of bins to do punch downs on, so a definite perk to the current, sane, pace.  Cheers!

What do wine and planes have in common?

Yes, it is Crush 2016, yes, we have had fruit come in, no, it hasn’t been busy like the last few years.  I don’t recall a slower beginning to the prior harvests I have participated in.

Sauvignon Blanc, Sagemoor Vineyard, Pasco, WA:

Arrived/pressed 08/27/16, almost dry (1.5 Brix) 09/07/16, Lagana Cellars Glycol (temperature control) jacketed stainless tanks slow the fermentation down a bit.

Orange Muscat, Lonesome Springs Vineyard, Benton City, WA:

Arrived/pressed 08/29/16 and ever so close to dry for Locati Cellars.

Chardonnay, Cockburn Ranch Vineyard, Milton Freewater, OR:

Arrived/pressed 09/03/16 at Lagana Cellars, also in a glycol jacketed stainless tank, is fermenting gently, lowering the Brix daily.

Pinot Grigio, Reed Vineyard, Pasco, WA:

Arrived (finally)/pressed 09/06/16 at Locati Farm for Locati Cellars is in a chilled tank just getting the fermentation going.  Note the difference in the harvest bin photo as this is machine harvested fruit rather than the hand-picked we typically get.  Lots of free run juice in this batch.

Pinot Noir, Breezy Slope Vineyard, Milton Freewater, OR:

Arrived/crushed 09/09/16 for Lagana Cellars, about 1/3 of the fruit has been foot stomped on the stems, inoculation 09/10/16 – first red grapes are in the house!  This means punch downs three times a day begin now.

Riesling, Dionysus Vineyard, Pasco, WA:

Anticipated 09/10/16 for Lagana Cellars

We bottled reds for a few wineries where Lagana Cellars has the stainless steel tanks: Adamant Cellars, Enchanted Cellars, and G. Cuneo Cellars.  With the Riesling on its way in it will be nice to have more room in the cellar.  We are out in the vineyards sampling again to determine what will come in next week.  I think we are finally working Crush!

Meanwhile, having most of the Labor Day Weekend off was a treat we took full advantage of.  For the week I have had a flight lesson every few days.  Naturally, since I am focused and learning, I am not taking pictures.

First taste of flying a small plane
October 2015 we rented a plane for a family visit; returning I held the yoke while Hubby referenced a radio channel.

Last year, when we rented a plane to visit my family, Hubby was looking up a radio signal we needed and I held the yoke.  My daughter took a picture of this moment (actually several I discovered when I asked her for ‘the’ photo) and posted it to Facebook.  It took on a life of its own about me flying the plane.  I was only attempting to keep the plane from tilting as the map was large and pressure on the pilot’s yoke tipped the wings or dove the nose a bit making me edgy; I didn’t have my feet on the rudder pedals, Hubby did.  But the concept stuck and really learning to fly has been so very exciting.

Sunday we flew to Hood River, Oregon’s airport to have Hubby fly a sailplane and discuss a possible ship that was mentioned for sale there.  Once we were off the ground I took the controls for my third lesson, climbing to altitude, leveling, and flying (straight and level) to the ridge just before Hood River where Hubby landed us at the airport.  Alas, the wind was gusting to about 32 miles an hour and he chose not to ride.  But we did manage to have a conversation and learn what direction to take to determine if this was a good lead.  With any luck we will procure a glider, from somewhere, within the next few months.  Soaring in the Walla Walla Valley is our goal; one we hope to share with visitors and anyone interested in learning to fly a sailplane.  Watch for it!  Hubby flew us home as the winds picked up and carried us all the way to Walla Walla with a few bumps to keep things interesting.

Lewiston, ID motorcycle ride
Our ride to Lewiston, ID over Labor Day weekend was my first motorcycle ride this summer.

We have had the plane two months now and I haven’t been on the motorcycle all summer.  Monday we rode to Lewiston, Idaho and had lunch before returning home; it was excellent riding temperature.  Hoping it won’t be as long before the next opportunity to ride comes up.

The cooler weather we have experienced during Crush this year makes learning to fly wonderful.  Every chance we get my CFI Hubby and I squeeze in a flight with me in the left seat.  By day, he sells potato farming equipment and I make and sell wine.  And we call the friendly and beautiful Walla Walla Valley home; life truly is wonderful.

I have to ask, are there any pilots or flight students with any advise to offer as I learn to fly in our Cessna 182A? Not the best trainer, but what we have.  Any soaring folks?


Carlos' experimental light sport at Martin Field.
An experimental plane: this means not everything about it is approved by the FAA. You meet the neatest people at the airport…

Where did the summer go?

The sun is setting earlier these days, making our evening walks and bike rides a tighter squeeze before dark. This week the school bus started making its morning and afternoon rounds again too. Grape samples say we are ready for Crush 2016; both Locati Cellars and Lagana Cellars are scheduled for picking; by my next post we will have at least half of our white grapes pressed (three varietals).  Autumn Equinox is just weeks away and I feel like summer is just getting started.

This last week I prepared a few meals for the freezer to accommodate the Hubby’s potato harvest and my grape harvest schedules.  There are some quick-to-fix items in the cupboard as backup too.  While visiting with my parents for their anniversary last weekend my mother provided me with four beautiful zucchini from their garden and encouraged me to look up the Curried Zucchini Soup recipe from Allrecipes.  She tells me she changed it up a bit with more seasoning than called for and sweet potato; that even my father (doesn’t like zucchini) loved the soup.  (We are curried soup fans, recall this post?)  So, with four fresh zucchini available, a Locati Sweet Onion, locally grown garlic from the Farmers Market, and two cups of my own amazing turkey broth made from a whole turkey we roasted that I simmered with trimmings from all of the vegetables we cook with.  As I don’t do nightshade fruits, I make my own curry mix (recipe below).

My changes to the Allrecipes.com soup summed up:

  • added two large cloves of garlic and sautéed with the Walla Walla Sweet Onion
  • grated the zucchini rather than chopping it
  • added one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger as I added the zucchini
  • tossed the zucchini until it wilted before adding the curry powder and stock
  • used three tablespoons of curry powder
  • home-made soup broth, turkey based
  • no blender use after the soup cooked, personal preference

I would like to put diced potatoes and chopped water chestnuts in next time, maybe some turkey pieces too as Hubby likes to have his meat.  Preparation and cooking were speedy; might even make it again before the fresh local zucchini are gone… if time allows.

 Nightshade-free curry powder (sorry, been using it so long the sources have disappeared):

  • 4.5 teaspoons Turmeric
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cumin
  • 2 heaping teaspoons coriander
  • 2.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground dry mustard
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Fenugreek
  • *when I cook I ad 1/4 cup fresh parsley to the pot as well since I typically have this available rather than putting dried in the blend

Sift it all together, put it in a jar and close the lid tightly.  This is a fairly mild curry, as you can imagine, so we like more than most recipes call for.  It takes a few minutes to measure and mix, but well worth it.

I wanted to pair an off-dry Riesling with dinner, but couldn’t find one in our wine cooler.  Instead I chose a L’Ecole Chenin Blanc (dry) in hopes the fruit would pair well with the spicy curry.  Alas, not the best together.  Had I looked at my previous post I might have grabbed the Arbor Cellars Marsanne/Picpoul blend that I passed over this evening.  But, we have fresh watermelon and that was a delight with the wine as dessert!

It took a while to fly out of Harvey Field in Snohomish on Sunday due to the cloud cover.  Once we took off and managed to find a hole to climb through we were greeted by sunny blue skies and the majestic Mount Rainier. Cheers!

Crush 2015 Week 8: over the hurdles

It wasn’t a ‘busy’ week, but there were a few busy days that brought our 2015 harvest around to complete.  It began with a visit to my family to celebrate two wonderful ladies that share a birthday; this time we flew, cutting our travel time in half.

Lagana Cellar’s last fruit, Patina Vineyard Syrah, had to be pressed to tank and then to barrel before we could clean the press in preparation of putting it away until next season.  It was, of course, also time to rack the white wines that were cold stabilized so we could use bentonite clay to remove proteins that could cause a haze if they were left in the wine.

Oh, it was also time, again, to top the barrels of 2014 red wines for Locati Cellars.  While Jason barreled the Syrah I worked my way up and down the barrel racks; top to bottom back to front. No room for a ladder between the stacks, so I climbed the stacks.  I am not a graceful person (in fact, I am down right klutzy) and yet I managed to accomplish all of this monkeying around without injuring myself.  This is normal cellar work, and I enjoy it!

I worked in the tasting room, pouring wine and chatting with people to end my week; this will be where I spend most my time now.  It was an early, fast harvest with nice fruit and fabulous weather to work in.  Sadly, we won’t have 2015 Primitivo, but all of our wines will be terrific.  Autumn is rushing through the valley like the wild fires did this summer, leaves turn color and drop from the trees within a couple of days. The hot air balloon festival adds to the dramatic colors this weekend.  And the winery is cleaned up and packed away neatly, wrapping up a satisfying harvest season. Thankfully, potato harvesting here in Washington is also coming to a close as well.


Week 7 Crush 2015: Downhill slide from here

Pressing Sangiovese for Locati Cellars started this week off.  It was a nice day, not too cool, not too warm and the bees (including hornets and wasps) were quite interested in the wine.  We have both been stung and bitten lots this year; they want their share apparently.  This was our largest lot of fruit, so many barrels to fill.  They are settled into their racks to finish secondary fermentation now.  Jason barreled the Cabernet Franc the next day when his barrels were hydrated.

We brought the last of the fruit in this week; 3.7 tons of Patina Vineyard Syrah for Lagana Cellars.  It is Walla Walla AVA and beautiful fruit that tastes wonderful. Can you believe we have everything in before the middle of October?  I haven’t been at this for very long, but it is long before Halloween which is usually a gauge of harvest.

Bulk wine is prepared for a shipment.
Bulk wine is prepared for a shipment.

It was also time to rack some wine from barrels into portable totes and kegs as they will be shipped out to Aspen Lane Wine Company in Chicago next month, when it is cooler, but not too cold.

We spent one day on the road delivering wine for both Locati and Lagana Cellars to distributors in the Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA region.  It was a long day of driving; thankfully, Jason did most of it. I am glad I went along to get an idea of where and with whom we distribute our wines. How to drop wine off when the Rep is in a meeting was my first lesson.  Meeting Pam at Evergreen Wine Cellar and Leah at Niche Wine Bar in Vancouver provided a couple of Rep-structured visits for me to observe the process in action.

Poster for Evergreen Wine Cellar.
Pam supplied me with a few of her posters to sell in the tasting room. Look closely, isn’t that wonderful!

While we were at Evergreen Wine Cellar the poster we have in the window of the tasting room was brought up; I love this poster!  Several people have offered to buy the one in the window because they like it too. Graciously, Pam provided me four posters to sell in the Locati Cellars tasting room – contact me if you are interested and can’t make it to the tasting room.  There are only four, so first-come-first-serve.

There was even time for me to spend a day with my usual partner in wine, AKA hubby, while he worked his harvest job this week.  It was the first time since we moved to Walla Walla that I had time to ride with him during harvest (still haven’t ridden with him during potato planting season).  It was fun to see the diggers in the field and the potatoes going into storage until the processors are ready for them.  I couldn’t help myself, I had to pull pieces of vine and weeds from the potatoes on the conveyor as they went passed because it bothered me that they were there.  Allergies aside, it is always great to get out in the field with him for a day.  I did a bit of harvesting in my garden too.  After the gorgeous pumpkin fields on my way to work last year I had the notion I needed to plant pumpkins this year myself.  There was a variety of ‘lil’ pumpkins that seemed appropriate for the space we had.  Then a friend gifted me a ‘yellow squash’ plant, so we had two plants that sprawled over a considerable amount of ground for the last three months.

I am looking forward to slower mornings and cooler days as we finish this harvest season out.  I believe I will have more time to harvest the remaining tomatoes and peppers for my love to make salsa for himself.  Cleaning up the yard and putting it to bed before the weather is down right cold will be a first at this house.  I was glad to be home when the yard service guys that take care of the neighbors’ lawns came knocking to be sure we really did want our lawn aerated as we missed them last year and it needs it!  Tasting room shifts and responsibilities will be more frequent now that cellar duties are waning.  It is strange knowing I am not going back to class again – a good strange though.


Wine with dinner to write tasting notes.
Hubby and Jason after dinner as we worked on the tasting notes last week.

Week 6 Crush 2015: A juggling act

Nobody makes us, there is no coercion, but we feel compelled to say yes to something we realize will only cause us more stress than we want.  But, that said, we still say yes and take the consequences; know what I am talking about?  Grape harvest with one winery can be taxing enough, for two wineries at opposite sides of the Valley, it gets complicated.  This year Jason said he would crush, press and ferment the Rose’ for G. Cuneo at Lagana Cellars.  As I work with Jason, but don’t typically have a say in the Lagana decisions, I was thinking I was helping press Riesling, the last white grape to come in when I ended up helping crush Sangiovese instead.  Divide and conquer, make it work, do what needs to be done; all of those things went through my head as we balanced the workload of two different activities on a small crush pad.  It worked, we managed to accomplish both pressing and crushing before dark… clean up was more cumbersome than usual as you can imagine.


We had 3.7 tons of Carmenere’ and Cabernet Sauvignon from Seven Hills Vineyard come in too.  I am fairly sensitive to the pyrazines (bell and chile pepper flavors) in Bordeaux varietals.  From the first taste of the Carmenere’ it was apparent that despite the hot summer ripening of the fruit was different than other years.


Did I mention that it is Fall wine club time?  And we need tasting notes for those wines, that means a pleasant evening of a relaxed nature instead of a physical workout.  We bottled at the beginning of September, but a problem with the labeler left us with unlabeled bottles.  Hand labeling and then preparing the boxes to ship… until we ran out of packing inserts.  Yup, we don’t have enough to do, but wine club ships now because the weather is good most places.

My hubby took me for a joy ride over the Walla Walla Valley one evening.  It was my first time up in a small plane since I first went to college in the eighties; this was a much better flight!

We also had the iPad software update go off the rails and had to spend a couple of hours clearing and reloading the machine that allows our tasting room to function.  This one wasn’t a choice, but it was necessary to address ASAP.  Ah, but we are so very close to the end of Harvest.  Cheers!

Week 5 Crush 2015: Locati Cellars is 100% in-house

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working in the tasting room, our new tasting room, for the first time since we began harvest.  It was great to open the doors in this space during the day and pour for customers rather than just run in to accomplish momentary tasks like deposits and change needs, or bringing cases of wine to replenish what has sold.  No actual decorating has been done, but this is twice the space we had in the suite next door.  By the way, that space no longer exists, it has been joined to Tero Estate’s tasting room on the corner so they have more room also.

Monday night we all made time to go to the Carbon Leaf  Concert at Main Street Studios here in Walla Walla.  My wonderful husband and partner in wine humored me through yet another crazy scheme: we worked the Merchandise table for the band before and after their show.  Thanks for coming to Walla Walla guys, yet another fantastic performance; we appreciate you brining your music to us. Do you know Carbon Leaf? If you haven’t look them up on iTunes.

Locati Cellars has had all of the white grapes in for a while, during the last couple of weeks we fermented three of the four red grapes (Dolcetto, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon).  While I was down with the flu Jason pressed them all to tank.  I felt well enough to work the next day and got them all barreled before we began crushing fruit:

The rest of the day we crushed Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Franc for Lagana Cellars and the very last Locati Cellars we anticipate this year, Mission Hills Estate Vineyard Sangiovese.  I was very thankful for the extra help that day as my still-not-well body wasn’t ready to work hard from sun-up to sun-down.  Philip, you rock, thanks for pinch-hitting.

Tension wire wrapped around a crusher bar.
Sometimes you find the craziest things, this is tension wire from the vineyard that made it into the bin of grapes and then the crusher.

Cleaning up we took apart the crusher/destemmer to discover a piece of tension wire from the vineyard wrapped up inside.  This is hand-picked fruit, no machines until it hits the crush pad.  We heard something, but thought we would discover a rock in one of the bins when we pressed the fruit off.  Alas, no one was hurt, the machine is fine and the wire is now in the trash, where it should have gone originally.

We will miss making our Locati Cellars Primitivo due to Les Colline’s loss of the vines during last November’s freeze. Having all of our Locati fruit in-house by the first day of Autumn is surreal. Lagana Cellars is just over half in; the next few weeks might bring it all in.  We still have warm days and nice weather, but I will keep you informed, thanks for following along. Cheers!

Week 4 Crush 2015: just over 50% of our fruit is in-house

It is really strange to say that in the middle of September we have more than half of our fruit picked and processed. We have had great weather and a super team to make it all happen.

Pressing our Dolcetto on Friday was flawless:

In anticipation of picking Rousanne at Sagemoor we grabbed a friend’s trailer, picked up the eight bins we thought we needed and brought them to the vineyard on Saturday. Jason figured 4.5 tons as per his contract, they estimated 5 tons when we dropped the bins:

Jason and I said we would help bottle for Mustard Seed Cellars and Adamant Cellars on Monday.  Knowing the week ahead I confirmed there were enough people for the afternoon and only bottled through the Mustard Seed Cellars wines:

Apparently the night before bottling Adamant Cellars lost a few people who said they would help.  Jason had to work super hard that afternoon, poor guy was pretty sore afterward.

Bringing in the Barbera on time and done promptly made for a nice day:

We had a hasty change of plans when the first block of Cabernet Sauvignon was shifted to a morning pick time from a mid afternoon and we still planned to press the Rousanne in the same day. Time being at a premium, I didn’t take any pictures while we crushed the Cab, but I made up for it in the afternoon with the Rousanne. On Wednesday morning they texted about 6 tons were coming in and when the bins were loaded, including many of their bins, the total came to 7.33 tons! No way we could process all of those grapes in one day and we didn’t have the tank space.  Sagemoor agreed to donate the ‘extra’ grapes to Walla Walla Community College for student use; win-win! It was still a very long day of pressing:

So, it is purple-hand, punch down time again! Cheers!

Lots of temperature and Brix readings with all of the red grapes coming in.
Lots of temperature and Brix readings with all of the red grapes coming in.

Week 3 Crush 2015: the calm before the storm

Rain barrel filling a watering can with mint behind.
We got 8/10′ rain and my rain barrels are full!

We had rain! Friday evening it began rather quietly; Saturday morning we had no power for several hours.  My dry rain barrels are full, my potted plants are happy to have the rain water again and we haven’t had to use water the yard all week.  After the intense fires this summer it was with joy that we experienced rain during harvest; one reason trumps another.  What have you been up to this week?

Friday we pressed the Breezy Slope Pinot Gris for our Walla Walla Pinot Gris and pressed the Cockburn Ranch Dolcetto (‘CODO’).  Saturday, with no fruit coming in, Hubby and I met friends at the Ellensburg Rodeo; no rain there, but it was very windy and cold.  Sunday we rode the bike out to the Farm to do Dolcetto punch downs and it began to rain.  We took the time to shop for some necessities, an indoor activity, before returning to stir up trouble in the Dolcetto bin again.  The best part of the weekend was having my Hubby home an extra day – although, he might have wanted to be back at his own work rather than helping me scrub fermentation bins at the Farm before taking a much desired motorcycle ride through the hills.  The tasting room needed wine stocked, so we discovered the outside sign had been moved and the window decals had been applied – we are now official, but still not decorated.

The Orange Muscat came in on Tuesday, lots of time pressing as it is a fairly slippery grape.  It is worth every minute though as the dry fermented Orange Muscat (DOM) pairs beautifully with herb rubbed, grilled lamb and cheeses.  It has aromas of honey and orange blossom that evolve into a lovely herbal palate.

TC studying the FAR AIM.
My hubby passed his flight physical!

The best highlight of this week was the love of my life passing his flight physical on Wednesday morning!  It is his turn to study hard and pass tests, albeit not for the length of time I needed to be certified in viticulture and enology.  Exciting times in our lives, no telling how this might turn out, maybe he will blog about his experience…

I played in my garden Thursday, harvesting and weeding.  It was mostly a restful day so I can be ready for our pressing of the Dolcetto on Friday morning.  Then we prepare for the onslaught of Barbera and Rousanne grapes, possibly one of the two Cabernet Sauvignon’s we anticipate as well.  Want to help process grapes?  We don’t do much foot-stomping, but we do take a hands-on approach.  Where your grubbies, wash your hands and come on out.

Cheers, until next week!