Working harvest at Ram’s Gate brings new meaning to the term ‘hand-crafted’ wine. These grapes are loved. Or at least the most perfect ones are anyway, and treated with such care. The fruit is picked as soon as the sun peeks out over the horizon in an attempt to preserve the fruit’s premium, just-picked quality. (Heat = spoilage, simply put. Not that you run the risk of immediate and disastrous spoilage with a little heat, but that the earlier you pick and the cooler you keep the fruit, the more pristine it comes in). Then it slides slowly across the sorting table as three or four or six people sort out green leaves, rocks, anything that’s not fruit from the clusters (I removed several grasshoppers, one fuzzy caterpillar and an unidentifiable plastic object today), and undesirable fruit, if there is any (there hasn’t been much this harvest, which is exciting).
|Sorting table (right) and Giraffe (left)|
|The Shaker Table. I’ll have to post a video for full effect.|
Then the fruit travels up what’s called “the Giraffe” (because it raises the fruit nine feet in the air and is long and skinny and neck-like) and drops it into the de-stemmer, which spins the berries off the stems, allowing only the berries to pass through. As the stems get shot out the back end and fall to their death (into a bin to be reborn as compost, of course), only the grape berries drop onto the shaker table to continue gradually making their way to the tank or barrel. It is on this very shaker table where I spent my entire day today, trying not to let the incessant, vigorous shaking back and forth of the table make me sick, and snatching furiously at little bits of green stems that try to make it through the system. I can personally assure you that the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir is stem-FREE. Which means less (and very little) ‘green’ notes in your wine. You’re welcome! Though monotonous to be sure, it was a beautiful and enjoyable day. And although I would love to go on and wax philosophic on the wisdom to be gained from manual labor and doing the same thing for eight or nine or twelve hours straight, I’m exhausted. (In a good way.) More to come! So far, we’ve brought in ~90 tons out of 210, so stay tuned.
|Some went to tiny tank.|
|And some went straight to barrel.|