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Mick Pacholli
13th July 2013, 03:11 PM
The*sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of*grapes*as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.*~ Galileo Galilei

With the first grapes just crushed there’s electricity in the air. A daunting, thrilling anticipation of the juggernaut about to descend upon us. It’s vintage! That crazy-busy, exhausting and magical time of year that winemakers look forward to with equal parts dread, excitement and inspiration. There’s the peculiar delight of the unknown. What the weather will bring. How the tides will turn. Uncertainty is the name of the game during vintage and the best-laid plans rarely eventuate thanks to Mother Nature, who has her own uncompromising way of doing things.

http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/~/media/Wolf Blass/Images/From Our Winery Blog/Chardonnay in Bin.ashx

One of the reasons wine is so decidedly unique and inimitable is that it can only be made once a year when the grapes are ripe. And ripen they do. And mostly all around the same sort of time. And while Chardonnay will ripen before Shiraz and Shiraz before Cabernet, it’s a very intense progression where one after another each variety blossoms into its full potential. Unlike a peach, grapes don’t ripen off the vine, so perfect timing is of the essence. This is one of the reasons why there are so many sleep-deprived winemakers skulking around vineyards and lurking in fermenter sheds by the end of April wondering if they will ever see the insides of their eyelids again.But it’s not only picking the grapes that’s critical. Once the grapes arrive at the winery there are a whole host of decisions that need to be made to not only capture the vitality of those newly picked grapes but to elevate them to their highest possible capability. To enhance and nurture and refine, in order to create the best possible wine. So not only do winemakers need to have the physical stamina to get through vintage, they also need to be mental contortionists, dealing with a multitude of tasks at any one time, coping with extreme pressure and thinking quickly on their feet.

http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/~/media/Wolf Blass/Images/From Our Winery Blog/Red Crushing.ashx

When I tell people I work as a winemaker they immediately paint a picture in their minds of glamour and romance, sipping wine from barrels and strolling through picturesque vineyards. And while there is an element of truth to these images, the reality is more about cracked purple hands, boots full of seeds, hair festooned with skins and clothes slick and sticky with pulp and grape juice. And a tiredness that becomes so much a way of life that by the end of vintage you’ve forgotten what it’s like to sleep without care.But would I swap it for anything? Just the smell of the first fresh grapes arriving at the crusher, the heady aromatics of yeasts and ferments and pristine oak barrels waiting to be filled that charge the winery with new vintage life are enough to remember why we do it. For the love. For the thrill. For the fun and the joy. And ultimately for the wine.

More... (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/From-Our-Winery/Our-Winemakers-Blog/2013/01/24/The-Thrill-of-Vintage.aspx)