The last grapes of the season for Black Sheep Finds have been picked and processed. On November 3rd we brought in our last bit of Syrah, from the White Hawk vineyard near Los Alamos. It’s a good thing we did: it rained later that night, the vines had little left to give and in three weeks it will be Thanksgiving. If one can avoid having grapes fermenting at the Thanksgiving holiday, one should. There is nothing quite as un-celebratory as stuffing yourself with stuffing and then going back to punchdown tanks (as we did in 2005). It really messes with eating, drinking and football watching that I so look forward to each year. In fact that is what Thanksgiving has come to represent to me over the past 11 years: it is a goal to reach for that symbolizes the end of another year and another vintage. By then end of November I am thankful for the all the hard work performed during the growing season and the harvest that has transmuted and fills our barrels. I am thankful that I get to move back to LA to be with my family. And I am thankful that we are able to plan an excessive holiday meal with homemade food and great wines from throughout the world. And I am thankful that I can return home with a sense of accomplishment, that I have got another 15,000 or so bottles worth of wine into barrel and that our wine business gets to continue for another vintage.
I do love the time of harvest, the making of the wine, the unique semi-rural/agrarian experience that I get to have each Fall. It is a welcome change from the other nine months of the year spent in the middle of Los Angeles slagging around town trying to sell my wares. It is a process in which I get to be in control, making decisions and evaluations each and every day. From when to pick the first grapes at the commencement of harvest, down to deciding when to press the last tank at the end. It feels good to be in control, or at least attempt to be for a few months out of the year. And you know pretty quickly if you have been making the correct decisions during the growing season (mother nature withstanding). Once the wine is in barrel it tends not to lie to you: you know pretty quickly whether you did a good job or not so good a job.