Hello loyal Vinopanions! A brief update is probably in store: the Lady, Piper Roja and I are doing quite well here in Yountville. I just finished my first IRONMAN 70.3 (Santa Rosa) and I’m coming up on my second sabbatical at work. There…update done. 😛 In all seriousness, a lot of things have happened this year...
I have been immersing myself in the study of #wine in a semi-systematic manner for much of the last 8 years. Indeed, #Vinopanion's 8 year anniversary with @WineLog is approaching in the middle of this month. Yet I have slowly realized that something is lacking in my devotion to the knowledge of the vinous delights: focus, structure and external credibility. You'd think that a trained scientist would have recognized this long ago and I did notice these thoughts in the back of my mind a few years back. But they were always battered back by "where's the time?" and "I'm still receiving plenty of media travel & event invites," along with "my wine consulting services continue to expand." Then I reached last year and I started to recognize some clear patterns in my wine work. While I had plenty of media opportunities and my fellow wine colleagues were continuing to get work, I could see that the pace of my own trade offers beginning to slow down. It was then that I noticed that most of my colleagues began to sport letters after their names on their business cards: they were taking certified educational courses to formalize their wine training. I needed to set up my wine game. It was then that I contacted the good people at Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw): "help!"
The 2011 Harvest
is done. It has actually been done for the Northern California wine industry for a few weeks, but I needed those weeks to digest all that I have experienced (and re-acclimate to my previous life
), before I was ready to write this final post for Man Falls in the Vines
. Harvest is such a compressed, intense experience. It has proven to be hard for me to sum up in a somewhat, year-end post. Despite such difficulties, I was
able to complete my harvest insider feature article for the January edition of Mutineer Magazine
, as well as their brand new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition
, also debuting in January. All of this experience, hard work, and camaraderie demand applause and to be forever thanked for, however. And after the jump, you will see all of the new (and one old) vinopanions that I made during those six weeks in Stags Leap, Napa
at Chimney Rock Winery
The heart of the Harvest season can be a surreal and crazy time. Yes, of course I guess, it's crazy when you have a ton of things going on at once, including actual tons of ripe fruit to process and 15+ hour days dragging down your health. Indeed, I was sick twice during weeks 4 through 6 at the Rock for Man Falls in the Vines
, with the entire Chimney Rock Winery
) crew coming down with something, at some point. Crush isn't easy, that is known the industry over, but I was happy to see that I persevered along with everyone else (who are all harvest veterans) and learned quite a bit about what it was to work some of the most taxing parts of the harvest: digging out the fermentation tanks after barreling off our new free-run wine.
Weeks 2 and 3 of Man Falls in the Vines
began super busy at the winery, but finished with the quietness of fermenting tanks. I have already talked of the craziness of Week 1
, when we brought in a good 150 tons of super premium Stags Leap District
Bordeaux varieties. The last two weeks saw all of the rest of that fruit come in, all of it Cabernet Sauvignon
, the heart blood of the Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog)
wines. Our days were definitely long, particularly the last two, where we had two more days of bringing in at least 70 tons of fruit. The last of the lots of Cabernet were completed on 10/27/11 with a healthy roar of relief by the vineyard and cellar crews, and capped off by a raucous bin dive by Jeff in the last ton of fruit. I was in the north barrel room doing my morning ferm monitoring, so I'm still bitter that I missed his swan dive. My bitterness was sweetened however, when Jeff discovered that grapes can really go everywhere and anywhere, when hit at high speed!