New Zealand Harvest 2011 Update #5

As written to friends & family on May 10th, 2011:

Punch Dance: The Musical

Since the day after the first red grapes arrived at Muddy Water Winery, punch downs have become a part of our lives. After morning coffee, lunch and dinner, the entire Greystone & Muddy Water winery staff picks their organic or conventional weapons of choice, climb atop 5 ton stainless steel fermenters or 3 ton black plastic fermenters, and muscle away at various must cap depths. Must is comprised of skins, stems and seeds that are included in the fermentation of red wine. The cap is the aforementioned solids that are pushed to the top of the fermenter by the fermentation process that must be recirculated into the developing wine. By doing so, we are promoting color extraction and depth of character. Given that great music is blasting in the winery at all times, inevitably everyone breaks into “Punch Dance.” It doesn’t take much to imagine what kind of dancing is emulated while clinging to wooden and stainless steel poles. The greater the volume of wine fermenting, the more difficult it is to perform a successful Punch Dance…er, punch down.

At one point during harvest, every fermenter was full including two picking bins and two puncheons with their heads knocked in, respectively named, “Buzz” and “Woody.” All of these fermenters made it very difficult for people to move about the winery and required the development of additional choreography akin to modern dance or even parkour. Ask Luke for a demonstration.

Regarding our home life, we’ve also been having a field day with the mice. We’re killing about two a night with mouse traps, or other creative methods. Jesse woke up feverish the night before a recent day off, to what sounded like a baby playing drums with pots and pans. The clatter drew her into the living room only to see Luke and Johannes, crawling around on their hands and knees with pan and pot. It was only after a few swift bangs that Jesse realized they were trying to mash a mouse. Johannes then succeeded, oddly resulting in Stephan jumping up on the couch screaming, (insert German accent here) “I will never eat in this house again!” It was quite the scene and no worries, Stephan has since eaten in the house.

Beyond the mouse mashing, our accommodations are top notch. As it has been a rather rainy vintage, we use the nights with good weather to light fires in a halved oil drum on our patio while drinking wines from around the world and grilling various meats and autumnal vegetables to match. Southern Hemisphere stars shine upon us while we live out an incredible life.

Cheers from the Waipara Valley on the South Island of New Zealand,

Jesse & Luke

*All mice were harmed in the making of this post. Sorry, vegans.


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