Friday, November 19, 2010

Autumn Repose

I hear it may snow tonight.  I’m not really surprised—despite last week’s balmy weather, we are in the middle of November.  We’ve lost our yellows and reds; the trees are skeletal, and everything is green or brown.  The lake and sky are steely, and it is so still.  It feels like snow.  
At the winery, we’ve moved inside, and are tending to those homey things that get put off during the frenzy of vintage.  
Kelby spent the morning scrubbing tanks.  It turns out that Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are wonderful for shining stainless steel.  Peter did some laboratory analysis, started a filtration, and answered e-mails.  I vacuumed the warehouse- and winery-floors.   None of it’s glamorous, but it’s essential.  
Kelby’s roommate from his Harvard days, Dave, came to the winery today.  He’s very friendly and has an easy smile.  He fit right in here, and kept busy at the computer while Kelby finished his work.  We all waited for a visit from our friends from Anthony Road.  
Around 11:00, Johannes Reinhardt (winemaker) and Peter Becraft (assistant winemaker) came to review our wines with us.  We gathered samples of all of our Rieslings, as well as our Pinot gris and Gewurztraminer.  
We tasted and talked.  We compared harvest figures (°Brix, pH, and titratable acidity) with those from Anthony Road.  We made predictions about how our wines might develop: How will this Riesling taste when it’s reached dryness?  Will the acid profile be just right when we blend these two Rieslings?  After we filter this Riesling, will it show the clarity we’re after?  Should Riesling 6 be released as a Reserve?  We discussed flavors, and textures, and palate-weight.  Johannes gave us his highest praise.  “Elegant,” he quietly declared, as he sipped and nodded.
When we tasted our low-alcohol style Riesling, Johannes excused himself to fetch some samples from his winery, which is just down the road.  
He returned with two fascinating bottles: one contained their low-alcohol Riesling.  The other held a Riesling that they had allowed to spontaneously ferment (that’s to say, they did not add any yeast).  They were made last year, and will not be released for a few years yet.  These styles need time to develop into the beautiful and complex wines they will surely become.  
Our small laboratory seemed a bright and cheery island in nature’s gray.  It was warm, not only from all the bodies in our little space, but from the outpouring of enthusiasm and friendship.  
It’s one o’clock, now.  Johannes and Peter Becraft just slid away to attend to other tasks.  Kelby and Dave packed into Kelby’s car; they’re off to visit old haunts in Boston.  Peter is finishing up his filtration, and I, of course, am writing to you.  
It occurs to me how the winery at this time of year is so much like many of our homes in late autumn.  There is a lot of cleaning to be done, but it’s not all drudgery.  The dreary days are often brightened by visits from friends we haven’t seen in a while.  And it’s always nice to be puttering inside when it’s blustery outside.  
Ask me in February how I feel about being indoors while gales are blowing, but for today, as geese are silhouetted against arctic clouds in a chrome sky, as pale-gold barren cornstalks wave about, as friends enjoy with us the bounty of our harvest, I am extraordinarily happy.  
By: Tricia Renshaw, Assistant Winemaker

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