September 5, 2018
CALISTOGA — Day one of the Sauvignon Blanc harvest begins. We bring in 20 tons for Phifer Pavitt over the course of the next three days. It takes that long, not to pick the fruit, but rather it takes that long to press the juice to tank in our tiny and gentle bladder press.
The day goes something like this: forklift the boxes of fruit off the truck, weigh the fruit, load the truck with empty boxes, dump the grapes into the press (three macro bins per press load while two of us sweep the grapes by hand to evenly fill out the cylindrical vessel, digging into the mounds of fruit with our bare arms deep in the cold sweet mass up to our elbows in it.), then start the automatic press program which runs for upwards of two hours, and then we wait to do it all over again. In between we wash down the cement crush pad, maybe tend to some long overdue drain cleaning or paperwork. Soon it’s time to send someone to Palisades deli to get shrimp burritos (extra crispy). Finishing time will be well after dark.
Gary Warburton is the winemaker of record for this particular SB. I am truly the consultant on the project. So we also chat the entire time about style and technique to make sure we always veer towards the flavors and qualities of the wine that we have worked together on for the last seven years. He’s a great collaborator. And as an added bonus, today he bought the shrimp burritos for us all.
Jon Jones and I will tag team over the course of the next three days, covering for each other so we can each attend to our other harvest chores. He needs to drive to Amador tomorrow to check the Petite Sirah. And on Friday I’ll need to oversee the Zin Rosé pick in Suisun, after which I plan to check a bunch of other vineyards down there. Likely the Pinot and Merlot and another SB vineyard in Oak Knoll for Olabisi. And if I have time, I’ll pick up a hundred pounds of dry ice from Complete Welder’s Supply in South Napa.
First real day of harvest and I’m already tired. Or maybe I’m just out of harvest shape. Should be up to speed by the end of the week!