Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fun With Wine: Week 2

In my last post I failed to mention my commute. Since the winery is situated in the Willamette Valley, I see the sunrise silhouetting the Cascades every morning on my way to work. If I'm lucky and get off work before dark, I see the sunset behind the Coast Range on the way home. It makes the drive so much more pleasant to be able to examine the varying shades of tangerine and dusky blue in the sky. The fog here is pretty incredible too. It rolls, rises, and settles, whispering around bends. Just a couple of days ago the fog rested over the entire vineyard. You could only see but the first couple of rows. The leaves on the vines have already changed to vivid yellows and browns, so they were an outstanding contrast to the soft grey of the fog. Working in the winery, I watch the changes in the vineyard throughout the day. The fog and rain hover over the property in the morning, but then the sun comes out and burns off
any sign of precipitation, and produce a beautiful fall sunset.

Me in punch down land

Our winemaker Chris filling barrels

Speaking of work, I have been pulling some insane hours the last couple of weeks. On average, my days last 12-14 hours. And during those days, I am involved in intense manual labour. We harvested the entire 140 acre vineyard in under two weeks, making for very close quarters in the cellar. Absolutely all the tanks and large pots of juice are fermenting at once. All of it requires constant care. We have three sessions a day of punch downs and Pulse Airs. Punch downs are a gentle way of pushing the cap (made of grape skins and seeds) down under the juice, keeping the cap moist and homogenizing anything added to the wine, i.e. tannins, yeast. Pulse Airs are used on the tanks to achieve the same results as punch downs. We use a wand that is injected into the racking valves of the tanks to push air up through the juice and over the cap. We've also started filling barrels of pressed pinot noir, which means we also have to clean barrels. Cleaning and filling barrels is an all day process that we've been working on all of this week. Each day we press more tanks and pots of wine that is ready for aging. In the next few weeks, everything will be out of the cellar and in barrels, awaiting the perfect time to be released.

Fermenting juice does not like to be stirred. This is what happens when you make a tank angry

But for now, it is a true work out ensuring that all the wine work is completed each day. I now have a voracious appetite, eating breakfast, two lunches, and sometimes two dinners daily. I haven't eaten like this since I was in high school athletics. Great to be able to eat anything and everything without gaining an ounce again! The hard part will be when I have to return to my normal diet once I am back home.

And home is now only a month away. I am officially half way through my internship. The long hours have pushed me to the brink, and I can see how why this is only a seasonal job. I can already feel myself burning out, and will be ready for some down time when I return to Dallas.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just glad to see you wearing your own boots instead of mine! Wait, is that my sweater??