I'm sitting in my office staring out the window over a roomful of barrels quietly ticking through malolactic fermentation. Also outside my window I see a row of stainless steel white wine tanks, icy jackets holding the 2009 vintage inside. The winery is quiet. Most of our staff his home preparing for Christmas- wrapping gifts, shopping frantically, but in the cellar we are busy putting together blend, after blend, after blend. We are intently focused- tasting, refining, and tweaking every nuance of each wine; readying ourselves for bottling in February.
It is with these thoughts that I reflect back on the 2009 vintage. I reflect on all the people that brought their energy, drive, and dedication to this year's wines. Early mornings. Late nights. Darkness on the drive in to work and darkness on the way home. Clothing saturated and smelling of wine. Dampness permeating every molecule of one's body. Tired, aching muscles. Calloused, cracked hands. Grapes in our hair. Seeds in our clothes. Achingly cold grapes on the sorting line. Hours of sorting. Days of sorting. Weeks of sorting, only to be followed by months of punch downs. Fruit flies. Cleaning, cleaning, and coming back to clean even better. Forklifts zooming back-and-forth. Shaker tables rattling. The dull roar of equipment drowned out by the loud roar of music. Lunches filled with camaraderie, wonderful food, and wine- time to just get away making wine for a few minutes. Time to sit down, and rest one's feet, a few minutes respite from standing on concrete. Some days were filled with conversation, laughter, and joviality. Other days we quietly filled our bellies, chewing, and staring ahead; fortifying ourselves for the remainder of the day that lay ahead.
All of the hard work that went into our wines will soon be in bottles. Encapsulated will be all the hours Jason spent in the vineyard. All the predawn mornings, tractors rumbling to life and tracing their zigzag paths through the dark. All the vineyard workers thinning, dropping fruit, hedging, and picking the grapes that we have now made into wine. All the people out in the vineyard and in the winery. All their stories are part of 2009 vintage. All these end up in our wines. I liken all the details and all the decisions that go into the wine to snowflakes. Each is tiny, yet unique unto itself. Each decision that is made by each person accumulates, until there is enough combined mass to nudge vintage to life. From there on vintage just builds on itself- picking up momentum and gaining size. By harvest, a giant snowball of combined effort is roaring at us, huge and heavy. Now that harvest is over, that massive snowball has come to a quiet rest. And, this is where we are in the winery. The momentum that builds up each year, giving us harvest, and the resulting wines, is now in a relatively calm place. Something resembling stillness.
Each morning, as I drive into work, I gaze out the window at the passing landscape. The naked trees and frost encrusted fields, enshrouded in mist, suggest that few first flakes of 2010 have already started to fall.
Momentum builds. We start anew.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from Anne Amie.