I know it is not a good idea to complain about summer. It is a time where everyone can get outdoors enjoy the weather and not have to have numerous layers of insulation to keep warm. I can't help myself though. It is about this time of the summer that being at the winery is, well, work.
Summer is one of the least exciting times for a winery. Yes, we see a lot of visitors, pour a lot of wine (and hopefully sell a lot as well)…we are busy. But we do the same thing weekend after weekend; we are in the tasting room, pour wine and we sell wine. People come and people go. It is the same thing every weekend.
So what is the problem? The problem is there is nothing to do. The vineyards are doing their own thing and the wine in barrels is aging. We really aren't needed. So we wait. We wait for harvest. That waiting is annoying and it is boring. We are waiting for the excitement to being. We are waiting for harvest.
Fall and early winter are all about harvest and production. We do a fall release of wines and we do have some wine club events but this time of year is, first and foremost, about harvest and production. We go into high gear and are working non-stop. Grapes are coming in from all of our 14 vineyards by the tons. Some grapes arrive as early as the end of August; some grapes arrive as late as early November. The red grapes are de-stemmed and set out to cold soak. The white grapes are gently crushed as whole clusters. The red grapes require punch downs and constant monitoring. The juice from the white grapes goes straight to barrel (no stainless steel for us). Everything needs to be cleaned again and again. There is energy in the air.
New barrels arrive and the old barrels are moved out of use. The barrels have to be moved around and reorganized like a giant puzzle. The newly crushed juice is put into barrel and labeled by grape, clone, vineyard lot and vineyard. The harvest production assembly line moves on and on through the fall and into winter. Slowly production winds down and everything is in the appropriate barrel. The production equipment is cleaned one last time and put away for the winter.
You might think winter would be boring and it can be. However, there is neat thing about winter. It's when the wine comes alive. All the work that is done in the fall is now coming to fruition (sorry for the pun). The fermentation of the wine is bubbling along, barrel samples are being made. Tentative blending decisions thought through and tasted. It is the time when the grape juice that went into the barrel becomes something more. Oh yeah, we also hold our Winemaker's dinner in the winter…that makes it special too.
Spring brings about hopes for the new harvest. It is also when get ready to release our spring wines. We have bottling activities and racking of past year's wine. We gear up for our spring club shipment and there is renewed traffic on the wine roads. We see the vines come back to life and we have the summer to look forward too. This brings me back to where I am now, the middle of summer. Where the work days drag on, the non-work days fly by too fast and all I have to write about is that I miss the excitement of harvest. So for the next month or so…I will be busy doing the same things over and over. We are in the dog days of summer where work, really feels like work. This year I really feel it.
Loxton Cellars in Glen Ellen, CA on the weekends.