Posts Tagged ‘wine counry’

Last Wednesday seems so long ago although it is only a week that has passed. That morning I left Jessica’s home after spending a few days “keeping Girl company”. Girl is Bill’s dog and he and Jessica were still away in Colorado.

I traveled south on Hwy 5 to Hwy 20 and then Hwy 101 with the final destination of Ukiah in sight. There I was to meet up with Therese and Pamela to spend a few days learning and “helping” harvest grapes for Pamela’s latest wine creation.

That night, after several false starts we met up at Sophia’s Italian Restaurant to meet Pete and B Barra, a very special couple. Pete’s family, along with the Fetzer and Parducci families are perhaps the oldest and most established organic wine growers and producers in California, if not the country. Pete’s father came over from Italy as a young man, eighty + years ago and began growing grapes. The family has lived in the Redwood Valley area all these years.

My knowledge of the wine growing and harvesting industry was minimal at best yet I could always tell a good and a really good bottle of wine (although both were not always in my budget).

On Thursday morning just as the sun was coming up, two (2) crews of ten workers each arrived to start picking. In the morning due to the cool damp air, a mist hung over the valley and vineyard and as the sun rose and warmed up the moisture was cleared by the warm sun. Such a beautiful, mystical sight!

At lightening speed these men would go down row after row of vines, cutting the grape bunches, filling up tubs and buckets and then running to the main bin, dumping and starting again. In the morning air you could hear conversations and songs in Spanish and laughter would ring out from time to time. It would seem that games were played to see who would be the fastest picker. After trying our hand at cutting bunches, Therese and I helped pick out the leaves and debris from the grapes dumped in the bins. This we realized later is an important step that is often left out by larger commercial operations. What was interesting to me was that as this went on I would often have “songs” reveal themselves. The songs, as with many of the songs I am given, were in strange and ancient languages. It was like tapping into the ancient memory within the grapes. This all made sense when I learned about the yeast!

The grapes being picked were for Chardonnay wine. Each main bin holds approx. three (3) tons of grapes. Over the two days of harvest, this consisted of five hours each day, a total of sixteen (16) bins were filled with a final count of forty two tons (42 tons) of grapes picked.

These figures equate to:

6000 + gallons = 2500 + cases = 30,000 + bottles = an awful lot of glasses of Chardonnay!

After picking the bins were taken to Parducci Wines for processing. First having the stems removed and then put through the huge crushing tank to extract the juice. This was then fast frozen to stop bacteria forming, then several days to a month later the juice would be heated to about 60 degrees and the yeast added.

Pamela said she would use yeast from a South African strain that carried many of the characteristics she desired the final wine to reflect. Apparently there are only about 200 strains of yeast that are used worldwide, and each strain can be traced back to the very original yeast seed, hundreds if not thousands of years back. Pretty much, this means that all wines, no matter the type and origin could be related.

I also learned that the older the vine the deeper the roots grow into the earth and the farther the vines reach out to other another. This again shows the amazing intertwining of types and heritages. Could this be why wine and the grapevine have been exampled in stories from the bible and other ancient teachings and mythology!

During our time in Ukiah, the three goddesses took a tasting trip to the Anderson Valley. What beautiful countryside, amazing vineyards and some very special wines were tasted.

On Friday night, Pamela and VinFuzion very kindly treated Pete, B, their daughter Cindy and son-in-law Michael, Therese and I to a wonderful dinner. On Saturday morning the three of us left to spend a few hours at Harbin Springs before going our separate ways over the next days.

In will leave the next part of the journey for next time!

Perhaps you can enjoy a glass of vino this evening!

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