Jason wrote these notes from a past Harvest time:
“The beginning is always hard to separate from the end. We started picking today, and it is the end of the vintage for every vine we harvest. The fruit has burgeoned over months, starting as a tiny, citrus-scented flower to reach this apotheosis: a quick snip in the cool of the morning. The life of the cluster has come to its end.
But that snip is the very beginning of the wine. An acre of grapes goes into one press. The berries, pressed, yield their juice–the first of the run of Pinot gris is tart and green. The press cycles—14 pounds of pressure, then 28, then 42—backing off the platen and fluffing the berries up again between each squeeze. Each cycle brings its own character to the wine, the last yielding juice the color of rose-hip tea and sweet with the sugars stored next to the skins. It takes three hours of slow respiration of the platen of our old basket-presses to finish the cycle. We are left with an empty press and a few hundred pounds of skins, but also with a full tank of heavy juice, giving leave to the yeasts to make it wine.
When you pick the grapes, you can almost hear the vine’s relief. The canes, unburdened of their fruit, spring straight again. The beautiful architecture of the vine, and all the hand labor that went into assisting it to its form, suddenly clarifies. The leaves change color almost immediately. Freed from the burden of photosynthesis, the vines secret their remaining sugars into their trunks and begin their preparations for the winter to come.
By the time the leaves have fallen, the juice has fermented to wine. The vines grow dormant. The cool of winter steals into the winery and the second fermentation begins, the long malolactic that carries the wine safely through winter. A period of age, the careful tumult into the bottle—and someday to the table, where another end, and another beginning, awaits the wine-to-be.”
~ Jason Lett, The Eyrie Vineyards