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Friday, September 12, 2008

'Crush' Status in Dry Creek Valley

There is about a 6 week period each year during which the bulk of all winery's harvest occurs. Most people think that Fall in general is 'harvest', but really most of us (wineries I mean) are done by early or mid-October with all crushing duties and have moved on to pressing, barreling, and other such sort of cellar tasks.
Here in Dry Creek Valley-we're midway through our harvest at Michel-Schlumberger. We have a little different timespan for harvest than some of our neighboring wineries, since we have everything from Pinot Blanc (one of lightest and thinnest skinned grapes) to petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc (some of the most complex, tannic, and thick skinned grapes). We finished harvesting our Pinot Blanc at the end of August. Then we did our chard, followed soon after by Pinot Noir and we've just this last week picked/crushed our zin and syrah. Now with this amazing cool-down in weather in the Valley all of our big guys (heavy reds) are getting a chance to hang out there on the vines and get some all around ripening done. What do the winemaking crew do when they are waiting for grapes to ripen? a LOT. Have you seen a punchdown or a pump over? How about a guy with a metal rake, pulling out all green matter from a load of grapes before it reaches the de-stemmer? Then we've got our cellar crew inside moving wine into barrels, taking juice glutted skins back out to press, and 'toppping off' to make sure our barrels aren't getting oxidized. The winemaker's out there testing the sugars, making sure his vineyard crew are all well-informed and ready and well...................the rest of us at the winery are making Sonoma County Wine lovers out of every person who steps through our door. Harvest events (we started our series of harvest luncheons today..........), friday music, and just our general daily tastings and tours are all packed to the brim once September hits 'the valley'. This is the time of year that seems to go by in a second-blink and it's gone.............
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