Sat Oct 28, 2006
I’m tired. Or at least I was before pro mountain bikers Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick joined us at Pax today. The duo just returned to the States from Brazil, where they were racing in the Pan American Mountain Bike Championships (Mary won, Mike took tenth). Still, they attacked the day’s tasks of treading frosty grapes and firm, whole-cluster punch downs with the enthusiasm of kids out riding their bikes.
Erin Myers, Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick having too much fun treading grapes…
Their joy was infectious and their presence, along with assistant winemaker Duncan Meyers’ wife, Erin, the likely inspiration behind the six wines we blind tasted at lunch. Continue reading
Fri Oct 6, 2006
Things I didn’t learn in college or grad school but wish I had:
1- How to use a pallet jack
2- How to lift 50 pounds without injury
3- How to drive a forklift
There were no classes in manual labor at Sonoma State, where I went to college; nor were there any at the University of Oregon, where I went to graduate school. Continue reading
Thu Oct 5, 2006
Tottering on the two-inch edge of a small fermenting bin, staring into a ton of Syrah, stems and inky juice, I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t have had that last glass of wine with lunch. My responsibility, right now, is to punch down the mass of skins, stems and pips (seeds) that have floated to the top, the cap, as it’s called. The main reason for punching down the cap at this early stage in making wine is to introduce oxygen into the vat of juice, kick-starting the yeasts and the fermentation process, but also to add color and tannin to the wine, much of which come from the skins and the stems.
This afternoon we have to punch down nine tanks, four of which are my responsibility, since they’re the smaller ones. My punch down tool is a five-foot stainless steel pole with a crossbar at the top, one about half way down and an eight-inch flat disc on the far end. I’m leaning against the wall for leverage, my feet on the middle crossbar, my hands on top and the disc on the grapes, bouncing, putting almost all of my weight on the grapes, but I’m not going anywhere. If I slip, I’ll end up in the vat, and I’m already turning purple from the exertion. Continue reading