Oregon Harvest 2008 by Mike W.

Oregon Harvest 2008 Day 1

Okay, Day one was really yesterday but it can hardly, actually count. I mean really, I spent about 8 hours in transit from the cab to the blue line to a cab again, then the interminable lines at O’Hare (Okay United, when there are 1000 people waiting to board planes it might be nice to have more than four people checking those 1000 in. PS, dear NSA, can the third biggest city in the US have more than one security line open for an entire terminal at 5pm? Thanks, that would be great. Finally, it is not necessary to get a map of Portland at the Hertz rental desk when your car comes with a bleeding GPS system that you bitched and moaned about for forty minutes despite the same 1000 people waiting in line behind you. Oh, and you call that a CARRY ON piece of luggage? For shame. You know why the airlines are failing? Because you suck. Double finally: thank you Intel for recruiting seven people from UIC and putting them all on the same flight, getting then all rooms at some Holiday Inn and getting them each a rental car. Way to be green. Move your office campus to Detroit if this is your MO. Nice.)

This morning I woke up fresh as a Daisy and skittered up to Rex Hill where the crew was wholly amassed and ready to work. The goal for the day was to receive around 100 tons of grapes, triage, de-stem, crush, and transfer them into tanks before sunset. How many of us are there anyway? Not many, was the inevitable answer. The day started calmly enough as I pumped over a couple of fermenting tanks; one of pinot noir, the other of Syrah/Viognier meant for Tannahill.

this is pinot noir with foam from fermentation

this is pinot noir with foam from fermentation

this is a bunch of fermenting syrah and viognier

this is a bunch of fermenting syrah and viognier

Its muscat!

Its muscat!

if I didn't suck at photography, you'd see a botrytis infected grape mass in the middle of this cluster instead of perfectly in focus shears

if I didn't suck at photography, you'd see a botrytis infected grape mass in the middle of this cluster instead of perfectly in focus shears

After the pumping, cleaning and sanitizing I got on the sorting line and picked the good from the bad, mediocre from the just okay and pretty much sealed the fate of all of these little fellas. One word: earwigs. Holy crap are there earwigs everywhere. Quote of the day: Me, “Are these bad for the wine?” Respondant, “No. Protien.” Wow. After an hour or two of this I was dragged of with the lead viticulturalist to a number the more pristine vineyards that we will be sourcing fruit from. Dragged off is a bit of a stretch, I was so happy to get to see these bundles at Harvest I was champing at the bit. What an education this was! Nadine (sorry if I spelled your name incorrectly) was in possession of an encyclopedic level of knowledge and process, and she was a willing instructor to me in all of the ways of the grapevine. I learned more in my hour with her than I have in many years on my own. We saw (and tasted) muscat hanging ripe on the vine, beautiful clusters of Pinot noir being devoured by ants and other creepies, botrytis, penicillium, leaf roll, powdery mildew, etc. it was a wine geeks perfect day. I was dumb with speechlessness and felt like a freshman at the senior prom.

The rest of the day I spent on the sorting line exchanging barbs with my new mate Hugo who I like and respect deeply. We had a great time together and saved the vintage from a number of serious problems with our diligence and eagle eyes. I am seasick with left to right motion from the counter-effects of the conveyer belt and have felt like a hobbling drunk since stepping off the platform. To end my work day I was treated to a wonderful A to Z/ Rex Hill ritual of an all staff comida/family meal of kick ass chicken fajitas that Hugo’s mother made for us all. Camaraderie was high, the food was excellent, the wine began to flow as Brett from Nautilus in NZ treated us to some of his Pinot Gris, SB, Chardonnay and PN. I was partial to the Pinot Gris, but they were all exceptional.

Tomorrow more of the same, but even more intense as a truck containing at least 30 tons of Sangiovese meant for Rose pulled up as I was leaving and there were many more scheduled to arrive before day break.

TTFN

Mike




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