It’s easy to figure out who makes home wine when you live in wine country. These folks always brag about their wine and want you to taste it. Then when harvest comes around they’re calling you for help picking grape.
That’s how I found myself early one Saturday morning dressed in grunge clothing (grape stain is tough to remove) with a pair of shears in my hand and a bucket at my feet.
It was time to be a harvester.
Coaxing Cabernet grape off the vine is challenging because it grows in small, tightly packed bunches. Too often they wrap themselves around vine or supporting wires requiring surgery to remove. When you see Pinot Noir grape it looks the same with small nodules of grape that must be gently removed. The labor costs must be huge, no wonder the stuff cost so much.
We were shooting to harvest 500 pounds of Cabernet Sauvigon grape from about five rows of vine. I personally filled four 5 gallon buckets. In three hours we ended up with 573 pounds of grape. This comes out to about 90 gallons of must (not juice yet) which will make about 265 bottles of wine.
But this isn’t the end of the journey. No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Crush, de-stem, ferment, strain (more stems, etc.), keg, store, age, bottle, cork, age in bottles 2-3 years and you have wine.
It’s all a bit of alchemy.
The fruits of my labor arrive in a couple of years when the wine maker I helped graces me with some bottles of California Bottles of Wine.
Oh the miracle of wine and friendship.
Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Bakersfield.