Thursday, October 01, 2009


Last Saturday started with moving boxes of empty bottles into the blending room for bottling. We were bottling another batch of Merlot 2007, as well as a new Cabernet Sauvignon Port 2005.

It’s around 75 or so cases, especially since we bottle the port in 375ml bottles (we use the small, skinny ones, the Belissima for that wine). It’s all bottled and corked and capped by hand. We started near 8:30am and ended by 11:00.

While the bottling was just getting going, I drove the first team of harvesters over to the Kinderhook vineyard, where they would be until about 11:30 or 12 Noon, picking the first grapes of the year. At this point, the grapes were at their highest sugar reading, and a the leaves were turning from deep green, to a dusty light green, to yellow and brown, the grapes matured from bright green to speckled golden yellow.

Saturday, we needed to harvest three vineyards – Kinderhook, Catskill, and Hudson-Chatham. A separate team, the Casscles family, was set to harvest in Catskill. And then in the afternoon, we would rely on staff, visitors, and the already tired bottling team to scour the Hudson-Chatham vineyard for the last grapes of the day. All day long we hauled and dumped and traded bright yellow fruit lugs, both full and empty, while other work hummed around us.

By now, the Harvest Festival was underway, and the winery was now open, and attracting guests. Katchkie Farms was there selling their products. We had apples for sale and eating. And people by the dozens came out to see the harvesting of the grapes and their being crushed as well. People came and went in droves all day.

In the meantime we had a tremendous blue singer, who with his acoustic bass, sang folk and blues songs soulfully throughout the day. He was great!

While the bottling team finished the second barrel – the Cab Sav port – we splintered the bottling team in half, and sent two guys over to start making a new batch of port to dump into the barrel we had just pulled from. Ralph led that charge. While that was going on, after the bottling was complete and the machines hosed down and cleaned, we focused on the next winemaking job at hand – final blend of the Baco Noir.

We washed out are large blending tank and strapped it onto the back of Ralph’s Gator, and then started to pump from the separate barrels into the one main tank. The deep, purple liquid, that smelled like vanilla and plums, created lavender colored suds as it splashed. After all the different batches of wine were pumped into the one tank, Ralph drove the gator around the farm, hoping to get a consistent blend of the dark, inky liquid.

Then the first truck called. The Kinderhood vineyard was picked and ready for crushing. So I drove in the old $850 truck out to Kinderhook and picked up that team. We brought the lugs back and started to now set up for the second half of the day, it being now 1:00 o’clock, to start the first of this year’s crush.

Just as the first crush started to finish up, the second crew arrived from Kinderhook. The second crush went through the system, now that Steve, our winemaker was there to start overseeing the winemaking process. Yeasts were now blended and poured into each of the separate containers – a sand colored, muddy brew.

By this point, there wre a bunch if us out in the Hudson-Chatham vineyard harvesting away. Todd and Cindy Erhling came by with their friends, and oll their children in tow. Theyere wre a big help in the field. We picked grapes for the seyval blanc, and grapes for the sherry (bunches that were too far gone for a light, zesty white wine). Cindy and her friend, my grape and sherry wenches, respectfully, carried out trays light lusty beer hall wenches, catching the clusters as I plucked them and tossed them in their general direction. They laughed hysterically, and made my job that much easier.

To everybody, Thanks for coming!


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