September 20th, 2019
“Hey, I’m sending you an email right now and I need you to print the attachment and give it to Mike” read a text message that Melanie sent me on the first official day of harvest. I checked my email, clicked the attachment and saw a very roughly hand-drawn map of a vineyard in the Snake River Valley. Mike, the guy who makes sure our fruit gets to the winery safely, does not own a smartphone (I didn’t know these people still existed) and relies on memory or, in this instance, hand drawn maps to find his way around Idaho’s wine country. I printed the “map” and handed it over to Mike. As someone who suffers from Directional Insanity, I had very little faith that anybody would be able to decipher what was on this piece of paper, “Oh I know exactly where this is!” Mike exclaimed. Mike was off to get our first load of fruit and harvest had begun.
Since then, things have been pretty mellow for us— just the other day I was sitting in the office when our Cellar Master, Rick, popped in. I asked him if anything exciting was happening, he said “Not really, we’re not expecting any fruit today, it’ll be a pretty slow day.” And from what I could tell, it was a slow day. When I went down into the production area, I saw David cleaning kegs (the production team’s FAVORITE thing to do), and Jamey sipping on a beer at his desk. Just an hour later Rick came back upstairs, “We just got surprise Chardonnay!” I asked him where the Chardonnay came from because he had told me they weren’t expecting any fruit, “You know, fruit just happens. We don’t always know exactly when it’s going to show up, but we’re always happy when it does.” On that particular day, Melanie didn’t think the fruit was going to be ready, but a trip to the vineyard had her sending in an alert to the cellar team… it was go-time!
Since “fruit just happens”, you might be wondering what fruit has just so happened to show up at the winery since the 2019 Harvest began? Well, the first thing to enter the building was Cinsault for Rosé and another mystery grape that we will be using for Rosé (more on that later), followed by Muscat Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc from Emerald Slope, Syrah for Rosé from Williamson, Gewürztraminer from Bankhead, Chardonnay from Sawtooth, and Viognier & Verdejo from Emerald Slope. I tasted through all of the tanks with Hailey and Melanie the other day and I can confirm that at this time, everything tastes like sweet, organic grape juice— but sweet, organic grape juice that will mature into some fabulous wines in the very near future.
We haven’t received any reds grapes yet, which isn’t unusual for early to mid September, but we have had the ripening process slowed down a bit by the cooler and wetter than normal weather. It’s not the end of the world, but it does make us feel a little impatient!
So what does that mean for the cellar crew? Well, it means they’ll be working a longer harvest season than expected. If you see any of them wandering around the winery during your next visit, make sure to tell them thank-you for all of the hard work they put in. I mean, we literally could not do this without them. I tried to do ONE punchdown last year and I immediately broke a sweat and quickly handed the punchdown tool back to Rick and told him, “I’m over it.”
That’s it for right now, but I’ll be back with more updates on crush so make sure to check back soon. Happy Harvest, everyone!