The grapes are picked, the juice is pressed, and miracles are happening in the tanks. We should be bottling in February and March.
We, as always, depend on friends to help us through this very busy season in our lives. Because of the intense and plentiful rain this year, maintaining healthy grapes was a challenge. Many thanks go out to our vineyard team: Larry M., Larry B., David, and Claire. They persevered, kept the fungal diseases at bay, and brought in a plentiful crop. It was a daunting task.
We were rushing to get the grapes harvested in between thunderstorms, and many other friends showed up and worked hard to bring in the crop. There is a danger in too much rain at the end stages of grape maturation. The vines can drink too much water, and the grapes can either become diluted in flavors and sugars or split and rot. Sunny and Jeremy's church friends arrived like saints on the wind, picking furiously until their clothes were soaked with rain and sweat.
We have four other sister vineyards from whom we purchase grapes locally, and they were all doing the same thing. It was an extended, exhausting and somewhat disappointing harvest season for all of us. Many clusters of grapes were cut and dropped to the ground, useless to process, due to rot. But, we persevered.
Next came the pressing of the grapes. It is a joyful thing to see the juice flowing! After the juice is pressed, Bruce hauls it down the road from the vineyard to our winery and begins the cold settling and fermentation.
The winery smells delightful in the beginning stages of fermentation...a lot like fruity, yeasty bread. The bubbling froth never ceases to amaze me. It is alive! Bruce is putting all those chemistry classes during pharmacy school to good work. He is faithfully taking samples and running the tests on them. He has commented that if he knew back then how much fun he would have with chemistry after he retired, he would have enjoyed those classes a whole lot more. Our Father is good to prepare us for things that we never dream about at the time.
Veraison is the term used for the beginning of ripening when the color of the grapes begin to change. The white grapes change from matte green to a lustrous, translucent gold, and the red clusters are a kaleidoscope of green, pink, purple, and blue.
Veraison 2017 is just beginning in the vineyards of Trillium. Blanc du Bois is always first, but LeNoir has already begun the metamorphosis as well. Its clusters are now a bluish green...the first step toward true veraison. Veraison is the hope for harvest. It is the sign that in about three to four weeks, the grapes will be ready for picking. It is the promise that we will soon see the fruits of our labor.
It is appropriate that as true veraison is happening in the vineyard, a different type of veraison is happening for our business. For five years, we have prayed, dreamed, planned, and worked. And, we are about to share the fruits of our labor with you. The tasting room is ready. We will open as soon as we receive our labels which are being printed now.
The wine from our own grapes will not be ready until November/December. So, in order to be able to open the tasting room sooner, Bruce and I went to some friends in Texas and purchased some of their wine in bulk. We brought it home in a refrigerated truck, gave it a few tweaks to make it our own, and will finish bottling it this week. Our friends live on the high plains of Texas, and they are able to grow grape varietals that are different from ours. Some of the varietals you will know and recognize, and some will be new to you. A few of you have tasted the wine and chosen your favorites. We already have a waiting list; the feedback has been very encouraging! You can rest assured that these grapes were grown with the same loving care that we give our own and that the wine was made by a family who works well together toward a common goal. Their wine, like ours, is a labor of love.
God gives us hope, promises and glimpses of things to come in many different ways. Veraison is a beautiful, visual example.