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.