As Luke & Jesse wrote on the 6th of April, 2011 to Friends & Family:
The Grapes Have Landed
The grapes have finally come in, and we have learned that winemaking is really all about forklifting. Lift the bins off the vineyard manager’s trailer, put them on the scale, lift them over the sorting table, lift and dump the destemmed grapes into the 5-ton open top fermenters that are about as tall as a two-story building. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
We’ve learned that winemaking is also about breaking things. We held a funeral service & wake for the tractor, an ancient International that no one could put a date of manufacture on. There was an entire barrel of caustic that went spraying into the heavens. (Caustic is short for caustic soda, i.e. lye which is used to clean stainless steel, among other things.) Innumerable bins have broken free in midair launching themselves haplessly into hoppers, sorting tables and fermenters. Then there was the winery door that Luke attempted to heighten with a not quite descended forklift mast.
That being said, cellar work isn’t quite as safe as our old desk jobs. However, there are less beer breaks in front of a computer. And the constant tasting of the berries, fermenting juice, and almost wines keeps the blood sugar up a little better than Folger’s coffee. So, there are some perks. But let anyone who is thinking of doing a harvest somewhere be warned: winemaking is 90% cleaning, 5% winemaking and 5% selling the final product. If you can get past that, this is the best job in the world.
Until next time: caustic, rinse, citric, rinse, repeat.
Jesse & Luke