Sometimes You Need the “Old”

When you see wooden baskets (not even the standard orange plastic “luggers”) splayed out in a vineyard it takes you back to a time before technology visited the vineyard.  A bit of romance and whimsy floods forward as you think of simpler times and then, “what the heck?”  🙂   Rarely do we hand harvest grapes any more.  The modern harvesters are so advanced now that they can pick a vineyard as cleanly as humans and at a fraction of the time.  So why were their baskets and people with cutters in the vines?  This is Riesling in Field D of our St Urban Vineyard and the grapes were being allowed to fully ripen AND more importantly the seeds were being allowed to ripen within the grapes.  The seeds transformed from green and very bitter to brown, less bitter with a bit of an almond character.  Why would this matter?  Well, the seeds will be part of this particular Riesling fermentation.  These grapes are for “Orange Wine” (long skin (and seed) contact white fermentation – VERY ancient form of wine), and a mature seed will impart good flavours as opposed to extreme bitterness from green seeds.  Still, waiting for seeds to mature (past regular harvest for most grapes) puts the fruit at risk and some bunches will rot.  We don’t want rot in our wines.  Therefore, the grapes must be hand selected on the vine.  The sound, healthy grapes are harvested and the rotten bunches/grapes are thrown to the ground to become fertilizer.  Only a human at this point can hand select this precisely.  So, for the 2017 grape base of our Orange Wine (fully, fully matured Riesling and seeds), it must be done by hand at picking.  Even our super high-tech, bleeding edge, optical sorter is not sophisticated enough to sort the white grapes on the crush pad prior to vinification.  So, it is back to the old ways for success and, why not. a little nostalgia!

Cheers, David