Santa Rosa, California
As it has each Spring for centuries, the Ancient Oak, Quercus lobata, in the center of our ranch fills with song birds making a towering tree of babel. The Oak has seen many things come and go in its years, only to return again. One hundred years ago vines were tended under its canopy; they were plowed down and later planted again.
In spring, the season of rest and winter pruning of the grape vines is nearly done, and the race to harvest begins in earnest. The sheep who mow the vineyard floor in winter are moved out to other pastures, we anxiously guard the vines on frosty nights, tie vine cordons, tuck and sucker the vine canes, train them to the trellis wires, dust with sulfur to prevent mildew, leaf-pull in the fruit zone, and myriad other tasks before the great days of harvest in September or early October. The actual day of picking is anticipated eagerly - waiting for the right sugar and the right flavors in the seeds and skins to reveal themselves.
Finally the day of harvest is called and the pickers arrive before light. We get started and the pickers call their numbers out loudly and sonorously as they add their trays of fruit to the the harvest bins behind the tractor. A good harvest is the meaning of the song; the bounty of harvest is picked cluster by cluster but measured in tons. The shear weight makes the forklift groan as Ken presses the pedal to give extra power to the lift.
Each bin of fruit is tested for sugar and acid before it is put into the hopper and lifted up to the crusher/destemmer. We sort out any errant leaves or damaged fruit as it is drawn up. The crushed grapes are placed into a large, stainless steel fermentor tank, kept cool for a few days to maximize extraction from the skins, then the magic and miracle of fermentation begins.
Please join us for a celebration many years in the making - of a great wine made in a magical place by generations of hands in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California.