Thursday, December 8, 2011

No More Monkeying Around in the Cellar for Me at Peju Province Winery

Today, I write to you from my brightly lit desk in the very tame upstairs offices. Actually, ironically, I just heard a cacophony of high-pitched hollers from the other end of the offices. Sounds like a big sale came in, woo-hoo! The holidays are an exciting time for Patti, Jess & Christina who take care of phone sales. Anyway, it is the first Friday in two months that I've had to iron before clothing myself presentably, and that I've come to work to spend the day wielding the almighty mouse and keyboard. Slightly different strengths required than those for wielding the heavy hoses and 20-gallon buckets of juice in the cellar. I am in the office today because finally the seasonal work requiring so many extra hands has come to an end. There is still much going on for the full time cellar workers, but they've got that under control. We drained our very last tank yesterday to press and barrel down today- Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the later-ripening blocks on our Persephone Vineyard. Almost all of the leaves have fallen off the vines, which are now dormant and will remain so until spring when the weather warms, rousing the vines out of their winter stillness to begin again to do what they are meant to- to photosynthesize, to pull nutrients out of the ground to create leaves and eventually to flower and to bear fruit.

'Dormancy', as defined by Wikipedia, is "a period in an organism's life cycle when growth, development, and (in animals) physical activity are temporarily stopped. This minimizes metabolic activity and therefore helps an organism to conserve energy." ( My organism can relate to that.

Dormant Vines on Peju's Rutherford Estate

Next week Winemaker Sara, Assistant Winemaker Joe, and Production Planner Sheri will begin tasting through the 2011 whites to see how the now two-and-a-half-month-old wine is tasting, and to start thinking about how they'll want to blend it in a month or two. Blending involves systematic tasting through barrel-aged versus tank-aged lots, lots in French versus American and new versus neutral oak, and then blending varietals with any combination of these variations. Love how winemaking involves doing science with your taste buds.

Most of the work that's going on in the cellar these days is to take care of the older vintages of reds that were laying low in their barrels while Harvest's new crop, like a needy newborn sibling, took all of the attention. Mostly, it's the topping I mentioned in a a recent blog post that the crew is busy with now. On a monthly rotation, the crew will bring all of the hundreds of barrels in our Estate cellar out to the crush pad to make sure the headspace in each barrel is at a minimum, lest the wine breathe too much oxygen and lose its youthful vigor.

Naked Vines Soak Up Some Winter Sun

And as the vineyard rests for winter, the sales team springs to action for the most wonderful time of year for us humans! It is certainly true that some of the best gifts in life are free. But wine is always a great gift too. Cheers!

Brittany Starr for Peju Province Winery

View from Peju, December 6, 2011

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