This year I decided to do as much hands on, boots on the ground harvest time as possible.
Last week I posted photos from my journalistic deep dive of 9 days shadowing the team led by Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman in the Sta Rita Hills and Eola-Amity Hills. Together they’re directing Domaine de la Cote, Sandhi, and Evening Land.
After leaving Lompoc, in Santa Barbara County, I drove north to the Dundee Hills in Willamette Valley where I stayed while working over the bend at the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. In wanting to go deep in harvest this year I chose to start first as a journalist (see last week’s post) and then work as an intern. But working as an intern was tricky – I needed a place I really could really do the work but without being attached to any particular winery. The Carlton Winemakers’ Studio was a perfect option. There I got to do some of everything involved in the winemaking process, see lots of different approaches and fruit from all over both Oregon and parts of Washington. (The early signs look like good harvest quality.)
At the Studio winemakers can be as involved or not as they want. Some are there only to use the space and equipment while others are there in a full custom crush capacity having their wine made for them. There is also every possible scenario in between of getting help while also doing the work yourself. As a result, the Studio itself needs interns. So, I signed up and worked as an intern for two weeks.
After I was in Willamette Valley for just a couple more days to finish up writing work before hitting the road back to California to get in those vineyards and work on an article about Napa Valley wine.
Here’s a look at the Instagram collection I made while in Oregon.
Staying entertained on the road: varietal chocolate tasting in the passenger seat. Forastero from Tanzania all citrus explosion bright top notes. Trintario from Venezula fresh berry and stone fruit mid palate focus. Arriba from Equateur so earthy herbal almost brooding. Criollo from Madagascar the most balanced and delicious with the full range of flavors. All super well made but the Criollo is sort of perfectly approachable, interesting and delicious. #chocolate #roadresearch
View from inside the tank. Cleaning duty. I stand between 5’9″ and 5’10”. It turns I can lower myself in and lift myself out of a 5’5″ to 5’6″ tank unassisted. (Freaky going in but all fine once I knew for sure I could get myself out.) Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines
It’s a magical world we live in these days. Earlier this summer I became friends with a Norwegian wine expert who I met at @ipnc_pinot and have kept in contact with since. Then last night I met up with three other Norwegian wine experts that I connected with via @ungrafted a while ago on Instagram. It turns out my friend from IPNC and the lovely threesome from last night are, of course, all friends. We had an excellent time enjoying conversation, dinner and local wine last night. Thank you, Renata @renatapdx, for hosting us with such hospitality. Truly grateful for new friends. ❤️ #Repost @ungrafted Whole cluster fermentation in Portland with the Californian wine guru @hawk_wakawaka !
Not sure life could feel more synchronous and simply good than here in this moment standing at the top of the Dundee Hills in Daphne Vineyard surrounded by Pinot Meunier vines, almost but not quite ready to pick, talking with Jason Lett about making wine vine to vine then all the way to bottle, while very tired at the end of a day of grunt labor working harvest, wearing work clothes, and drinking Eyrie’s second fruit vintage, 2015, of Willamette Valley Trousseau Noir all at sunset with a wonderful view of the coastal mountains, then Venus and Saturn. #willamettevalley @eyrievineyards @wvwines thank you, Jason, for the photo.
Field note observations on the Great American Earwig: they need some moisture but not too much. They do not come in on very cold fruit, nor on fruit from warmer sites. They do come in on fruit from moderately cooler sites . They seem to like fruit that is not excessively acidic. They go either under things or all the way to the top of things. Some portion of them can definitely survive a light press load but perhaps not the hard press. A high portion can definitely survive the destemmer. When you smash them they smell peppery. Have not determined yet how they do through laundry. They eat aphids so are beneficial. They tend to group near gardens. They are all over me. They like my hair. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines
And there it is, the close of almost four weeks of harvest. One of my goals for the year was to spend harvest as boots on the ground, hands in as possible. In Lompoc I spent a week and a half shadowing the team led by @sashimoorman and @rajatparr joining in on cellar work as part of better understanding how their views of wine inform their winemaking philosophy and then become tangible choices through vintage and harvest. It was a great opportunity to continuously move between the big picture view, through interviews and discussions while also tasting, and the decisions of actual winemaking. Sashi and I have had an on going conversation about his winemaking views for several years now and diving in so fully was the best next step to give that conversation traction. I am grateful for the generosity and trust he and Raj showed in letting me truly see what they do. From Lompoc I drove north to Willamette to work at the Carlton Winemakers Studio. Anthony King (here second front from left) knew I wanted to work harvest so when he realized their team at the Studio needed help during the peak of the season he called to ask if I’d join them as an intern. Shown here is the team I got to be part of for two weeks at the Studio – from left, Ben, Anthony, Christina, myself, and Jeff in the back. Anthony, Jeff and Ben were excellent teachers and Christina a pleasure to work with. I was glad to reconnect with the strength and endurance I was raised with commercial fishing through the brute work of wine harvest, inspired to be part of a team again and reassured too to have the time this last month to give all this persistent study I’ve been doing in wine these last years further grounding. I really dislike the idea of being full of shit and tend to be overly thorough in whatever I do to resolve that. More than that though I just love knowing how things work and value full immersion as learning. I’ll never believe, I think, that I know much when it comes to wine but I am hugely grateful for the patience, generosity, humor, hard work and camaraderie shown me by the team in Lompoc and here. I miss you guys. Hugs to you all from the road #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines
In Lompoc I got to eat a delicious roast pig that had been fed on the fruit must of @sandhiwines and @domainedelacote then cooked by @rajatparr . This morning I am eating eggs from @eyrievineyards Daphne Vineyard fed on the Pinot berries of the site (the birds jump up and poach the grapes). The eggs taste a bit fruit-sweet. Unreal. FOOD IS COOL #willamettevalley @wvwines
To check out how my harvest in the Sta Rita Hills and Eola-Amity Hills went, read more about it here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2016/10/10/harvest-in-sta-rita-hills-and-eola-amity-hills/
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