Vineyard Journal, December 2021: Taking Stock
Last month we tucked our vines into their winter hibernation with a last hurrah of vibrant foliage. Remaining leaves are falling fast and the vines will soon be bare.
This year’s harvest is settling down as well. Formerly frothy fermentations of grape sugar to alcohol are replaced by the unsteady *plop* *plop* -- *bloop* conversion of green-apple-tart grape malic acid to smooth lactic acid as lactobacillus babbles through airlocks atop tanks and barrels in cellars across the northern hemisphere. When they finish sometime this winter or even early spring, winegrowers will have a sense of this harvest’s flavor and their year’s labor for the first time.
For small organic producers like ours, the thrill of that first tasting is a marvel of apprehension and hope. Excellence depends on the success of countless uncertain factors coming into balance. Unlike conventional operations, our people had no chemical fixes for the vagaries of the vineyard, and no white lab coats to mix flaws away. Each wine focuses a lens on their decisions and varied experiences, good and bad.
Designated cuvees crafted year after year further highlight differences between vintages, even as they train drinkers to expect approximately repeatable and enjoyable experiences. Our winegrowers aim to please as craftspeople, work to transmit emotion as artists, and toil to coax a living from the earth as farmers. The creative tension can be formidable, even daunting, but starkly beautiful when fully accepted and embraced.
A wise farmer and friend once told me “every year you dream each wine, and sometimes, when you’re lucky, a dream comes to life.” Drinking realized dreams is a magical thing.