I grew up in the wine business and didn't really notice that I missed it until this summer. This has been an amazing year for wine grapes in the mid atlantic region, the conditions have been perfect for creating a great vintage. This is espically the case here at Seven Valleys Vineyard where we are having the best crop in over a decade. My father would be proud. As For me I am feeling more than a bit nostalgic, The smell of the grapes as they are being picked, the nightly ritual of walking up the hill and tasting the grapes, the way the arms of the vines sway in the wind, the physical work of picking and loading trucks, the smell of fresh pressed juice; at moments it feels as if I never left this place. So for folks who don't know how it all works here are some photos.
Here is a view of the vineyard looking down the right hand side of the hill at our fields of Seyval (Brix of 23.8, Ph of 3.49, and tartaric acid of .61- yes those numbers rock) and Cayuga. If Americans were smart they would stop drinking all that Chardonnay and drink some wine made from this stuff!
Here is the Cayuga on the day we picked it, beautiful!
The picking crew at work.
As we pick the grapes are put into lugs.
Then the lugs are loaded onto the truck and delivered to the wineries. The photos below were taken at Boordy Winery in Maryland. They are a big operation selling hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine a year, so the three and a half tons of grapes we delivered to them was a drop in the bucket, so to speak.
The guy in the white shirt is Ron Wates, the vineyard manager at Boordy who is the most friendly guy you could meet, I really enjoyed working with him. We unloaded the truck together, but I stopped to get up on the cab and take a few pictures. The day we unloaded there were hundreds of people at the winery enjoying a concert and a farmers market so we were on center stage. As we worked, tourists sat a few yards away munching on snacks, drinking wine, and watching the fever pitched work on the crush pad.
The grapes are unloaded into large bins holding about 900 lbs each and then put into the stemmer / crusher seen here behind the bin. Also in the background is Tom Burns, the winemaker at Boordy, and a great guy.
As the grapes go through the stemmer / crusher, the result, called "must" is pumped into the press, this one holds 9 tons.
As the juice leaves the press it's pumped into setteling tanks and the wine making process has begun!