Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fun With Wine: Barreled Down

Well, Harvest 2009 is long over and I have been remiss to write a wrap up post. So, at last I will finish the story of my time in Oregon.

The last couple of weeks were spent pressing the red wine and digging out tanks. All of the juice goes straight to a juice pan, but there is plenty left in the tank. Someone has to jump in the man-door and scoop out with a food grade shovel all the skins and seeds. Oh, and you're being timed. You have to wear a harness with a rope attached in case you pass out from CO2 overexposure, they can pull you out. But, it shouldn't ever get to that point, as you are wearing a CO2 monitor on your chest and the top is being ventilated by a fan, pulling the carbon dioxide out of the tank. I jumped in and scooped out one of the juiciest tanks there were- lucky me. See me up to my knees in grapes below!

Once everything in the tank has been pressed, a hose is hooked up to a pump, which is in turn hooked up to the barrel filler. Armed with a flashlight and a keen eye for precision, each barrel is filled to the maximum capacity, allowing a little room for stirring. Each barrel gets a thorough scrubbing with hot water (or cold if it is a brand new barrel) using the pressure washer hooked up to a handy-dandy barrel cleaner attachment. They have tools for everything! Once the barrel is sparkling clean and dry, they are rolled over to be facing exactly upright and exactly in line. Once, stacked 12, 14, 20 high, the stack will lean if this is not spot on. It would take me an hour just to do a few rows. Tedious, yes. Fun, no.

Callista moves on to the next barrel with the barrel filler, while Chris tops each one off

Chris fills the barrels with Pinot Blanc

Callista sits atop a barrel to get a better vantage point

Now that everything had been barreled down there was little to nothing left for us interns to do. So, the number dwindled down to three. My dear friends Callista, AC, and Kim. They cleaned up, organized, and stored everything away for next year's cellar rats. And I heard from a reliable source, Kim, that First Class 2008 was bottled just a few weeks ago. Can't wait to taste that out of the bottle- it was phenomenal in the barrel!

I will send out a post when 2009 is released so you can purchase some of my hard work! It was a great year for Willamette Valley and knowing the people I worked with, it will be one stellar wine.

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