Monday, September 14, 2015
As you may be aware, most California residents have a vineyard in their backyard and produce World Class wines in their basement. This may not be the case for all of us but we do have close access to wine growing regions. We probably take it for granted that we live only 25 minutes away from the famous Napa valley. Most visitors and tourist to our Golden State want to visit this region. It just so happens we have a friend Gary who's one square acre back yard is devoted to the Zinfandel grape. Once a year a grape picking party is thrown. This is a great chance to get down and dirty to experience the wine making process.
Gary has won numerous awards at the county fair for his wine making ability. He has it down to a science. We arrive at his house at 8;00am to get an early start harvesting. We fuel up with plenty of coffee, snacks, mimosas and wine if you so desire. We each are issued a plastic 5 gallon bucket and a pair of sharp clippers. We receive instructions to only pick the deepest dark purple clusters. This is because they are the sweetest and produce the best tasting wine. After several hours of labor the vines are picked and it is time to crush. Gary borrows the neighbors crusher because most neighbors in California have a crusher to lend. This hand cranked machine separates the stems from the grape and crushes them to form a pulpy liquid. This liquid is then place in steel containers and the wine making process begins.
This was a fun day toiling in the vineyards. A fabulous lunch was served to refuel. Gary broke out his award winning wines in flights of past vintages. We received a first hand experience in the wine making process. For our labors we all took home several bottles of the previous harvests. Not all Californians own a vineyard but it is sure nice to know somebody who does.