During the harvest, when the temperatures descend to the low fifties, we leave our warm beds at midnight and head out to the vineyard. Cold (along with harvesting by hand) preserves the fruit. The chilly air forestalls oxidation and prevents the native yeast from fermenting too soon. Once we bring the grapes to the fermentation tanks, we allow the fruit to stay idle for a few days in what we call a “cold-soak.” With time, the native yeast begin multiplying and actively fermenting the mixture of juice and grapes vintners term the “must.”
But there is another reason we forgo our rest and walk out into the night. Harvesting demands we stay connected and involved in many operations simultaneously. At night, the still vineyard provides us a tranquility that is its own reward. We flip on some lights to see our paths and to find the best clusters. Under the stark illumination, the vibrant greens of the curving vineyard rows seem to leap off a black canvas. Otherwise, it is silent: there are no phones ringing, no inbound emails, and no news feeds. Here, working in the chill air, we obtain not only serenity, but a few hours where we can focus 100% of our attention on one thing: finding the best fruit for our wine.
Written by Jeff Pisoni