Monday, October 25, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Comes into Sight

There comes a time during the end stages of vintage when a gentle elation sets in, tempered by the remnants of exhaustion that linger after several months of very demanding work. Right now at Fox Run, we may just be at that point. Kelby reports that he got eleven hours of sleep last night, having woken only once worrying about an imminent nutrient addition to one of our Merlots.

  Riesling fermentations are coasting toward completion. Here’s what they look like from above.

Solving problems, real or imagined, in the middle of the night is one of the inevitable consequences of being a winemaker. Sleep researchers have confirmed that our brains never actually shut down. Like, that’s something that winemakers knew all along! The chunks of rest we grab are more for the body than the mind.

My recurring quasi-nightmare, cold sweat and noisy distress and all, always involves an overflowing tank of some wine or other, most often one of our treasured Rieslings. After one of those episodes, I have to coax myself back to sleep with a few hundred mantra-like repetitions of  “It was only a dream…”

Okay, I will never approach the soaring rhetoric of Martin Luther King. This is more about self-palliation.

Back to the elation thing. No winemaker I’ve ever met can be described as smug, but this year we carry around a satisfying conviction that we are entitled to quietly revel in a job well done. The 2010 vintage – my twenty-first in the Finger Lakes – never careened out of control the way vintage can when grapes-coming-in exceed the staff’s ability to properly look after them. My deep gratitude goes out to Fox Run veteran, the indispensable Peter Howe; to treasured, immensely talented assistant winemaker Tricia Renshaw, and to brainiac, multitalented intern winemaker Kelby Russell.

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