As Dry Creek Vineyard's Wine Club Administrator, this is a question I am asked at least two to three times a week. My usual response is: "It's going well, the grapes are coming in and the juice is happily fermenting in their respective tanks and barrels." After answering the same way for several weeks, I exchanged my business attire and my comfortable climate controlled office for what I like to call my "grubby" clothes and the outside.
On Wednesday morning the cellar crew did not hesitate to put me right to work. I started my morning assisting our interns with pumpovers, which is the process used to circulate the juice to increase the flavor and color in our fabulous wines. Then I got my hands dirty clearing the sump (a strainer used to keep the wine and skins away from each other) of the skins and seeds. After pumpovers, I spent the rest of the morning cleaning the floors of all the runaway grapes and miscellaneous debris.
The afternoon brought in a large load of grapes from the Rafanelli Vineyards and I was summoned by the Cellar Master to carry a load of dry ice to the top of the tank to give our new grapes some much needed CO2.
Finally, I was tasked with rehydrating yeast for one of our tanks. The yeast smelled like fresh bread right out of the oven. Feeding the yeast was an entirely different experience. While taking some wine from the large tank, instead of closing the valve, I opened it all the way and was sprayed from the head down with freshly pressed Zinfandel. Needless to say, I did not go home as clean as I had arrived!
It was definitely a learning experience and I am glad to have a better understanding of what Harvest entails. I also have a much deeper respect for all of the hard work our cellar crew goes through to produce our fabulous wines. Now, back to what I do best; providing assistance to our club members in my nice clean and comfy office. I can honestly say that I am more than prepared to talk about how Harvest is going. I await your calls!
Salina Littleton, Wine Club Administrator