As much as we love to carry on about the romance and artistry of winemaking, especially during harvest, the truth is winemaking is a lot of hard work year-round. Today is the first installment of a new, year-long series where we’ll check in periodically with the team for a glimpse into their day-to-day lives. Chances are, you’ll fall even more in love with winemaking after reading!
Our head winemaker, Gilles, is on the road most mornings by 7:30am, a little earlier during these winter months to account for frost and slippery roads. By 8:00am, he’s at the winery sipping a cup of coffee while he creates the daily work orders for the rest of the crew. Work orders are the modus operandi of any winery – the official communication between winemaker and the cellar team. On the agenda this week is a rack and return of our 2019 Merlot, Malbec, and Sangiovese, and a topping and lees stirring for our white wines.
At 8:30, it’s time to get caught up on email. Much of what the winemaker does to ensure a great wine is logistical in nature. Bottling, which is an incredible logistical feat, usually happens during the winter. From arranging the glass delivery, booking the bottling truck, printing the labels and boxes, to making sure the equipment and the team have everything they need, it’s an all-hands-on-deck, hold-your-breath stretch of a few weeks at the winery. First on the docket is a summertime favorite, Julia’s Dazzle Rosé.
An important part of making great wine is tasting and monitoring the wine’s progress as it ages. During the winter is when we can start to focus on the blends. The cellar crew has spent the morning grabbing samples from all our Riesling and Chardonnay barrels, and at 10:00am we sit down for tasting and quality control as we start to put together our initial blends.
Tasting works up quite an appetite so by 12:00, we’re ready for lunch! We usually sit together, eat, and catch up on non-winemaking conversations.
No rest for the weary – after lunch we head to the lab. This time of year, we’re monitoring a few different items. First, we’re regularly checking the progress of malolactic fermentation so we know when it’s time to move the wines into the cooler barrel room. Second, in order to have the labels printed for bottling we need an accurate alcohol read on the wines. Lastly, we’re checking in on pH and sulfur levels across all the wines to ensure they are stable and bottling ready.
At 2:00 pm, Gilles works on tasting notes for upcoming releases. They don’t just write themselves! Then he spends some time in the tasting room interacting with customers with specific questions…maybe about vineyard management or our barrel aging regimen.
The work day ends with an all-winery management meeting where each department gives an update on what they’re currently working on. The winemaking team gives a synopsis of the upcoming bottling schedule and highlights of the wines we tasted earlier in the day. By 5:00 pm, everyone is back on the road again.
Everyone knows all the best winemaking teams run on beer, and ours is no different. By the time Gilles makes it home, it’s time to crack a cold one while he makes dinner. What’s on the menu tonight? Harissa chicken cooked in the air fryer and roasted veggies with fresh minced turmeric and orange zest.
This concludes a typical day in the life of our winemaking team during the winter months. Make sure to check back in the spring to see what fun our team gets into out in the vineyards!