#MFITV: 2011 Harvest Thoughts & the Quiet Winery

December 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm

The 2011 Harvest is done.  It has actually been done for the Northern California wine industry for a few weeks, but I needed those weeks to digest all that I have experienced (and re-acclimate to my previous life), before I was ready to write this final post for Man Falls in the Vines#MFITV. Harvest is such a compressed, intense experience. It has proven to be hard for me to sum up in a somewhat, year-end post.  Despite such difficulties, I was able to complete my harvest insider feature article for the January edition of Mutineer Magazine, as well as their brand new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition, also debuting in January.  All of this experience, hard work, and camaraderie demand applause and to be forever thanked for, however.  And after the jump, you will see all of the new (and one old) vinopanions that I made during those six weeks in Stags Leap, Napa at Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog).

Harvest at the Rock was a tremendous learning experience.  I feel as though I only knew a tiny bit about wine before embarking on my MFITV adventure.  Indeed, I only knew (some) of the consumer side of the story, 50% of the vinoquation (though I’ve got the imbibing part covered).  Once I began working in the winery and occasionally in the vineyards, I realized that I didn’t know hardly anything about the intricacies and craft needed to make a fine wine.  Each day was, at times, overwhelming with the large and small winemaking concepts that I was learning.  I eagerly accepted all of these new physical, mechanical, and intellectual learnings, with a giddiness that might have seemed a bit over the top I’d imagine, for my fellow talented cellarmates. I greatly enjoyed the physical labor aspects of the job, something that I rarely experience while researching cancer therapeutics in my day job.  I dropped 9 pounds and took a healthy 46 point chunk out of my cholesterol level, and gained quite a bit of upper body strength and muscle. Yet the best part of this entire wine adventure, as it always is for wine and myself, were the people and the relationships that I made and strengthened.

All of my fellow winery workers are crazy talented, beautiful, and deeply cultured and passionate wine workers.  I can’t thank them enough for willful sharing with me their knowledge, stories, passion, and most of patience, while I worked alongside them during the challenging and rewarding 2011 grape harvest.  Listed below are their photos and below that I have put together a short slideshow of some of my favorite photos that were taken during crush.  At the end of the video is a clip of the quiet winery, almost slumbering at the end of harvest.  The quiet that evening was almost shocking in its silence.  Thank you, Chimney Rock Winery.

Eddie Lona, Cellarmaster. The winery and cellar team are helmed by Eddie, who keeps us all in check and function with the appropriate attention to detail, all still with a sense of independence.

Doris Garrido, Cellarworker. A delightfully intuitive Latina with incredible strength built into someone so superficially small in stature.

Leo Almanza, Cellarworker. The papa bear with a penchant for asking any and all if everything was okay during a quiet moment.

Cindy Cosco, Cellarworker. An ex-law enforcement officer and already an accomplished winemaker for her own Passaggio Wines, working harvest to get a better grasp of red winemaking techniques

Rafa Alfaro, Cellarworker. The youngest of our group and a beacon of enthusiastic smiles and laughs

Jorge Leon, Cellarworker. The man from whom I learned the most in the winery, his advice delivered in a lighthearted, conversational way

Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking at Terlato Wine Group and former winemaker for the Rock, contributes his decades of wine experience, which have translated into some of the most innovative vineyard practices in the Valley.

Jeff van de Pol, Assistant Winemaker. A gruffer, mountain-man persona, yet willing to give his everything to anyone that shares his passion for the vine and its wine.

Elizabeth Vianna, Head Winemaker and General Manager. Elizabeth exudes the kindness and warmth of a den mother, filled with positivity and a measured excitement for all things wine and crush.

 

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Follow all of my adventures during that crazy sabbradical, by keeping up to date here at Vinopanion and by following the #MFITV hashtag on Twitter. You can find even more content by checking out my Facebook.  The project also has it’s own photo albums on said Facebook, as well as on my Flickr.  Lastly, all of the videos are being posted at my YouTube channel.  Don’t be shy, I’ll add you to any profiles. ;-)

As a reminder, week 1 was detailed in my intro post, weeks 2 and 3 covered in my second post, and weeks 5 and 6 were detailed in my previous #MFITV post.  Lastly, my feature article about #Harvest2011 debuts in Mutineer Magazine and in the new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition in their January/Febuary issues. Check them out and let me know if you have any harvest questions.  Cheers and a happy New Year to all!

Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, the West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for WineLog.net and Le Wine Buff for Bordeaux.com (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include wine...like virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. View Ward's WineLog and check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter and Like Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at WineLog.net". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

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