Harvest is a magical time of year to visit the winery, breathe in the fermenting grapes and feel the energy in the cellar. If you’re unable to make the trip to our Walla Walla winery to experience the beauty of harvest—here’s a little sneak peek at what’s taking place.
The journey of our 2021 red fruit harvest began in the early morning hours of August 30th when we brought in three blocks of Syrah. Leading up to the pick, through multiple samples and lab tests, winemaker Gilles Nicault determines the ideal dates to harvest the grapes. The crew arrives in the early morning prior to sunrise to prevent the heat from making the clusters more fragile and susceptible to premature crushing. Once the team gears up in the morning, they diligently harvest each cluster by hand ensuring the highest fruit quality and the least amount of damage to the grapes.
Upon arrival at the crush pad, we kick off another round of hand selection. The grapes go through two different vibrating sorting tables, each with harvest team members hand-sorting and choosing the ideal clusters; one to gently destem the berries and another to eliminate any underdeveloped berries or non-grape matter. After the fruit has passed these tests, we use a positive flow pump to gently transfer the berries to the tanks. From there, we begin fermentation depending on our winemakers’ specific methods. Some fruit will live in stainless steel, some will go to French oak baron fermenters, or even concrete eggs. All of these methods are important in order to achieve the style our winemakers are looking for.
To accomplish everything that needs to happen in the few short weeks of harvest, our winemaking team and cellar crew work diligently throughout the late summer and fall. Working long hours without a day off during harvest, Gilles leads the team in a number of ways to keep spirits and motivation high. To kick off crush, the crew is fitted with annual harvest t-shirts and the theme reveal is always something we look forward to. To keep the crew well-fed, there are team lunches, surprise pizza days, and on some fun mornings, Gilles will show up with a load of pastries for an added sugar boost. When the season is over we have a post-harvest dinner to toast our talented team and vineyard partners, and then it’s on to the next part of the life cycle: fermentation.
While harvest can be a dizzying time, we’re grateful for our dedicated team and Gilles’ positive, see-the-best-in-any-situation attitude. Here’s to a successful 2021 harvest, the team that makes it happen, and most importantly our incredible customers and supporters who let us continue to do what we love everyday -- make wonderful wine.