Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Different Kind of Winery Meal

As the days undeniably begin to grow shorter now, there is a distinct benefit to the hours we’re working during vintage.  Some winemakers are naturally night owls (or regressive teenagers) and work until the wee hours of the morning before starting the next day around noon, a schedule that suits their sleep habits and the massive quantity of work to be completed.  With Peter as the head honcho at Fox Run, however, there is no doubt that every day during vintage is likely to begin between 6:00am and 7:00am so we can finish before 10:00pm even on our busiest days.  Early to be sure, but it does result in my seeing the sunrise and sunset every day.

Morning Has Broken
Cutting past the cliches, sunrises are stunning.

Another treat during vintage that is easier to appreciate, however, are our evening meals together.  The vintage dinner has been mentioned a few times already, but it probably deserves its own post given how much attention we actually pay to it here.  The solution for this has become a highly-anticipated institution during vintage; all of us come together in the winery for a sit-down meal and fine wine as a break in the action. 

The dinner certainly fulfills a very functional role for all of us working. During those long 12+ hour days the thought of having to drive home and still prepare dinner is daunting - let alone getting ready for bed, which is the only thing on anyone’s mind at that point.  Moreover, for Pete and myself, there is a distinct need for calories come dinner time after we’ve spent the day running around the winery and lifting.  I think the calorie need is so that we can keep up physical work for a few more hours, though my mom would be the first to note the real problem is that, “You’ve always been cranky when you’re hungry, even since you were a small baby we knew!”

More than the need for the meal, however, is the pleasure we take in having one period of the year where we can eat together, talk about new ideas, and laugh about any mishaps during the day.  In this regard the vintage dinner helps solidify the feel of the winery as a surrogate family for us all during harvest, when we spend 90% of our waking hours in the winery and away from home.  It also gives us an excuse to break out special bottles of wine that we’ve been waiting for the right company to try with; sometimes aged bottles of Fox Run wine, sometimes fine beers, I even brought in a few wines from my travels in New Zealand back in April that I had specifically chosen with vintage in mind.

Then there is the food aspect of the dinner, no small detail given how much all of us enjoy cooking (I would say “enjoy eating,” but that only applies to the A-game appetite Pete and I bring to the table).  For the most part we are privileged to go down to the café in the tasting room and get a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches for our dinner.  On rare occasions the chef has something special to send our way, such as a rack of lamb he had specially marinated for us.  Sometimes a friendly staff member from the tasting room or café volunteers to bring us dinner, such as the fantastic stuffed shells, salad, and applesauce Jackie and Dan brought to us last week or the wonderful vegetable lasagna that Ruth provided us an earlier evening.  For a few weeks we even dabbled with grilling some of our own food, an excellent option when there is enough time to justify one person manning the grill.

Life Isn't So Bad...
...Especially for Max, who would manage to snag one of the lamb pieces when we weren't looking.

After our nice meal, wine, and company it is quickly back to work most nights.  But with good music put on for the occasion and a full belly, the nip in the air doesn’t phase us.

By: Kelby Russell, Winery Team

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