I wholeheartedly believe that I am genetically predisposed to harboring a desire to be part of the winemaking process. I can’t help it.
My mom grew up, at least in her very early years, in the heart of wine country in Northern California and I grew up with holidays spent at my aunt and uncle’s kitchen table in Napa, surrounded by grapes and hot air balloons and all the other wine country trappings.
When I started my hotel career over a decade ago, I did so at an European-style bed and breakfast tucked into the middle of a working vineyard. It was there that I learned the basics and there that I learned to appreciate the magic of fall crush.
When the weather starts to turn, there’s a level of stress among the vintners that we civilians will never fully comprehend. To make a truly great vintage, one must pull the fruit from the vine at the exact perfect moment. Too soon and the sugars will not have fully developed, too late and the grapes will have ripened too far. There is science, there is intuition, there is luck. When you combine all three, that is when you may be able to create a wine worthy of sharing with friends and loved ones.
I’ve been lucky over the years to find a few wines (and a few winemakers) to whom I am loyal. I hold a fondness in my heart for the estate chardonnay from Lange here in Oregon, the Snoqualmie merlot from Washington, and Elysium, a black muscat from Quady. I’m always on the lookout for a wine that surprises me but doesn’t break my budget or try my patience by being too expensive or too pretentious (I’m looking at you, Domaine Drouhin).
And, when day dawns, I’ll be on my way to visit the winery where my new friend Dave works. Dave, a fellow Timbers supporter, has been teasing us all week by posting photos of the vineyard, the winery and the winemaking process to his Twitter account. I won’t post his Twitter handle today since I forgot to ask his permission (on the off chance that every single one of you suddenly floods his Twitter stream with, well, I don’t know what, I want him to have some notice) but I’ll be sure to ask when I see him.
Fall crush is an experience unique to October when the farmhands and the vintners come together to create true magic, bottling it and keeping it safe so that we may enjoy it year round.