Fall is a fascinating time for a winery. Harvest is one of those "do or die" kind of seasons, where days stretch at both ends, temperatures drop, and excitement of the new vintages mounts. The fall of 2011 was no different. The days were a symphony of "pick, press, pump, repeat" when during the daylight hours, our family would harvest as many pounds of grapes as we could, and then process them that evening. This includes crushing grapes, adding rice hulls to spread the crushed grapes out and then pressing them in our bladder press. It holds about 1000 lbs of crushed grapes, which are loaded, by hand, and then squeezed for approximately 1 hour. Then, we pump all of the juice into our cellar for inoculation and fermentation in the following days.
What's missing from that whole process described above is the sheer amount of cleaning involved with doing the process correctly. Washing picking bins and lugs, presses, crushers, pumps, hundreds of feet of hoses all happen in sync with the glamorous stuff. ;)
The fall of 2011 was a particularly cold one, even for 6300 ft, when temps came ever closer to the stressful 32 degree mark. One cold October night, we found ourselves cleaning hoses at 11:00 PM, after a full day of harvesting and processing. As we started our small air diaphragm pump we noticed a certain slurpy-like substance exuding itself from the end of the hoses. After freaking out briefly and draining everything out as fast as possible, we started to chuckle and realize how lucky we were that we didn't crack the entire system. Lesson learned: H20 likes to change form around that 32 degree point. It's like magic I swear!