The feeling is anything but that. No matter how many harvests I witness, there’s nothing like the feeling when that first box of jewel-like grape clusters arrives at the winery. It still makes my heart race and tears spring to my eyes. Don’t know why. But I’d venture to guess that most true, hands-on winemakers feel the same way (actually, maybe they’re crying in anticipation of all the weeks of 24/7 work ahead rather than out of sentiment!). The vintage doesn’t start with the crush. A whole lot of their time and effort over most of the past year has been toward the goal of producing a great next vintage. Of course, they’ve got to take care of the wines they made last crush, but the next vintage starts calling pretty soon after the last one was put to bed in barrels.
At least for a small producer like Goosecross, the Winemaker is also the Vineyard Manager, and he gets really up-close and personal with the crop. He’s been walking the vine rows repeatedly, starting last winter with pruning, and then on to cultivating, shoot thinning, cluster thinning, checking for nutrient deficiencies and pest problems, more thinning, and he’s still walking now, checking the sugar and acid, tasting. He has a relationship with those vines.
And harvest is his one chance the whole year to get it right. You know if you make beer, or almost anything else, you can order the ingredients and get into production when it’s convenient. Not wine. When the grapes are ready, you’d better be in the mood! He needs to make the right decisions every step of the way from fresh grapes to wine and it all happens rather quickly. Once the wine is made, its basic character is pretty much formed and the goal is to sculpt and hone – not to do damage control.
We’ve started with a bang this year! 71/2 tons of Sauvignon Blanc Tuesday the 12th, 8 tons more on Wednesday, Chenin Blanc on Thursday and Cabernet from Howell Mountain on Friday! Literally, tons of work! We’ve got a play-by-play of the Goosecross crush if you check our Harvest Calendar, which is updated regularly. I think you’ll be surprised to see how quickly grape juice converts to wine, which is why it’s 24/7, and leads to the key phrase for surviving the crush: “Stock up. It takes a whole lot of beer to make good wine!”