I guess I “lucked out” this harvest as it’s apparently one of the lighter ones (although not as light as 2015’s) despite what growers thought earlier this year. Really, it just affords me more time to digest each part of the winemaking process which is fantastic. Ed brought in the first of his fruit today, about 6 bins of Chalone Boar Vineyard Pinot. We first weighed each bin to get a total estimate on tonnage and then we lined up the bins to begin pitchforking the fruit into the macro bins for fermentation. Dave and I took turns forking clusters in. These clusters were to be foot stomped because whole cluster fermentation was to be applied. This was 115 Dijon clone Pinot from down in Monterey and Ed preferred to do whole cluster because he like the old-world style that whole cluster produced. These were very juicy yet small, pine cone-shaped clusters and each bin was teeming with pincherbugs and spiders and tons of leaves, the latter of which we had to remove by hand. After every quarter was forked in, Ed put on his stomping boots and went to work, making sure to apply SO2 to kill pincherbugs and any unwanted bacteria/fungus. This took about 5 hours as it is a very laborious and timely process.

After we forked all the fruit in and Ed had stomped it down, we added a snowcone blast of CO2 to each bin and then covered them for the night. We cleaned out each bin that held fruit, hit them with Cleanskin and then swept up all remaining clusters, grapes, leaves etc. for the compost bin. It was a long, backbreaking day, but I felt invigorated at the end and knew that if I did future harvests with other winemakers they might have twice or thrice the number of bins, hotter conditions and less organization around the fruit itself.

I am learning to not put anything dirty in white buckets with Cleanskin solution nor to let anything that would touch fruit touch the ground, and if something should, to remember to rinse with water and hit with either Cleanskin or alcohol.

On a separate note, the feel and sound of the grapes was incredible. It was like tearing into orange slices in feeling as each dig for a forkful of grapes swept through the bin. The smell was incredibly lovely – fruity sweet to be sure, but almost like a perfume. The color of the juice of these clones was a burnt sienna or auburn, very pretty.

So, I got through my first day of dealing with incoming fruit. I loved it despite the hard work. That was all to be expected. I’ve dealt with a lot of hard labor in my jobs in the industry and so, this simply felt normal. Nothing ridiculous or over the top. It required what it required and I love that. On Monday, I’ll be back and likely readying new barrels or accommodating new fruit. Stay tuned!

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