Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
The last couple of weeks saw a flurry of action at our family vineyard. The “perfect” summer of 2012 ended with a stretch of wet weather that spawned nervous moments and tough decisions. Looking back, I probably worried more than I should have (what’s new) because the fruit hung on wonderfully through the intense downpours and resultant humidity. In a nine day span we were able to harvest all of our Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. It’s rare that all four of these varietals mature within such a short window. Perhaps that is what we will remember most when we enjoy the wines of 2012, just how early and quickly everything ripened. Even the later varietals taste like they are not too far off – a very exciting prospect!
As I fall into my daily ritual of fermentation checks (specific gravity, temperature and taste), I ponder whether this may be my favourite time to be a winemaker. I enjoy the solemnity of this stage, the wines are mine and mine alone. It won’t be long until I share them with my friends, but for now they are mine to protect and nurture. Each day there are surprises and letdowns, comebacks and revelations, but most of all there is respect for a process that I did not invent, nor will I ever perfect. I will only get so many chances to do this in my lifetime.
I used to feel pressure at this stage to repeat past successes, but now I know that it is a foolish pursuit. The wines will be what they were destined to be the moment the grapes were clipped from the mother vine. The job of the farmer is what crafts these wines. Sure, I control the fermentation with choice of yeast, temperature and nutrition, but I can no longer impact the natural elements of the harvested grape. It is those natural elements, supplied by the Terroir, that make a wine special.
I hold out high hopes for these young wines as they bubble their way through fermentation. The Pinot Noir is particularly intriguing this year. The aromatics are so intense! There are few things I enjoy more than punching down a bin of actively fermenting Pinot. It is a grunt at times, but also very therapeutic and mesmerizing (according to Wilma). Your entire year’s work reduced down to a single vessel of beautiful aromas and colours. As I said, a good time to be a winemaker.