Thursday, February 2, 2012

Barrels and Forklifts

The number one things I fear at the winery (besides ruining an entire vintage of wine) is the forklift.  Just thinking about climbing onto that that thing gives me nightmares.  Yes true, I know all I really need to do is take a class and practice, but its not really the operation that gives me anxiety, it is all the damage I could cause.  This fear was sort of realized during an episode of The Office when the warehouse crew wins the lottery and quits leaving the sales staff in charge of loading up the trucks.  Dwight, being the handy man he is climbs right onto a forklift and promptly ran it right into a wall. 
     You have to leave these things to the professionals and I am a total klutz.  Four broken arms, two broken toes and a few fingers have proven that without a doubt.  Never mind I achieved all of those from activities that most would consider safe. It is almost written in stone that I will cause damage to myself or something expensive.
   Wait... I think I've gone off subject, no one cares about my broken bones.  This was supposed to be about topping barrels, obviously I'm slightly off track.  Generally barrels need to be topped off about once a month.  Wine evaporates through the wood and so we must "top off" the wine so there isn't too much oxygen in contact with the wine, and today I was called up to help.  Usually the assistant winemaker, Jeff, handles everything, but my wine maker Joel is determined to get me more involved (he is obviously unaware of my past medical history).
     Thankfully I will not be the one manning the fork lift, mostly because our winery isn't the most forklift friendly place.  About ten years ago we finished renovating the two car garage into the present day winery.  The 2 arch shaped doors open in the middle (see picture... did you look? Okay back to the story).  The forklift barely clears the center of the doors, a huge opportunity to cause some real property damage. Moving the stacked barrels in and out of the winery is an art form, an art form that Jeff has nearly perfected... nearly. (We have only had to repair the damage a few times.)

Pulling Samples

  All morning Jeff unstacked and moved the barrels out onto the crush pad, as he added sulphur to a few barrels I pulled samples from others, don't I look like I'm having fun!  After pulling samples we tasted through the wines and then it was time to top them off.  We had one partial barrel, so I siphoned from that (my least favorite thing to do) into a bucket. I then dragged the bucket along with me filled a pitcher and from there into the barrels. It might sound really fun, but I assure you after about ten barrels it isn't all that exciting anymore. I do however love that I am exposed to wine making in this position.  It is actually my favorite thing about working here.  It is such a great learning experience to taste the wines through every stage if the process.  Joel Aiken, the wine maker, always makes sure to include me, even if it isn't the most glamorous job.

Rebecca, Chase Cellars.

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