On Friday, we brought in our last batch of grapes for the vintage. It's a nice feeling to have all the fruit in for the year. It's been somewhat of a challenging growing season, but with patience and attention to the details we've worked through each challenge, and are extremely happy with the preliminary tastes of the vintage. The reds are concentrated and showing nice fruit and tannin balance. Our Chardonnay lots are showing excellent aromatic complexity and even some nice oak integration, as the barrel fermented lots have now been in barrel nearly a month and a half.
Every year, we tend to the vines and grow the grapes as carefully as we can, all the while showing our respects to Mother Nature. In the cellar, we hover over the tanks and bins, and tend to the barrels with care. However, with each year that goes by, I find more and more aspects of our lives on Big Ranch Road that I take deep satisfaction, pride and pleasure in.
A week or so ago, I was standing on the crush pad, enjoying an extremely rare moment to simply observe the pad as a whole. As I was watching everyone working diligently at their tasks at hand - unloading the bin trailers, weighing fruit, preparing the sorting table, cleaning the press, etc. - I was once again reminded about the single most important aspect of growing and making great wine. People. You've got to have people who care about what they do. Otherwise, that shiny piece of stainless steel equipment that you just bought is just an expensive accessory - pretty but kind of useless. People make good things happen, and it's people that can coerce the magic out of a pile of sticky grapes. People are what counts.
We've got a gaggle of geese that spend their autumns in our fallow fields. They like to rummage around in the freshly spread pomace in the mornings and evenings. The sight of them flying through the sunset sky is one of my most memorable visions of harvest. The sound of them flying over my head on the pitch black crush pad before the sun comes up one of my most memorable sounds.
Geese work together. They fly in a formation to help everyone cut through the wind. When one bird gets tired, they switch around and the rested bird takes the lead for a while. A good winemaking team functions much the same way. We help each other and as a team, our individual skills and shortcomings are balanced by one another.
As I was watching the geese recently, it struck me that an upcoming post should be dedicated to our team. So our next post will be dedicated to the 2008 Monticello Harvest Cellar Crew ...