For Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery, it’s another wine harvest in the books. Vintage number twenty-three for me.
Here is a quick pictorial essay of the entire 2021 season.
On a bright blue day in February, pruning of the dormant vines is the first order of business (here we severely pruned an old vine Zinfandel block and piled up these cuttings for a local artist’s wood project)
The vines after pruning, a bit of rain falls, and the mustard cover crop starts to push
Soon the mustard is towering over the vines (here I am in a drone-shot in a newly planted Cabernet block)
It will be time soon to begin actively farming for the season, and so we start prepping the equipment for the next few months of heavy use.
But grapevines are hardy and soon the vine shoots are elongated, and deep inside the canopy the fruit begins to flower and set.
And our garden at the Hydeout responds to the summer heat with a bountiful harvest
And the next thing you know, like magic, tons of fruit is ripening quickly.
The first morning of harvest, and I am headed out at 4:00am, the car still a comfy 71F from being in the garage, but it’s a chilly 48F outside.
I arrive to find the crew well underway with harvest, as the first few vines get picked.
And after a long season of work, the half-ton bins begin to fill with ripe dark inky fruit
The sun rises and last few rows of this block get harvested.
And soon many tons of perfectly ripe fruit are ready for delivery to the winery
And eight long weeks later, the last bin of fruit is picked and is headed for the flatbed truck, and the team takes a big sigh of relief.
And now the work moves to the winery, here tank #20 is cleaned and prepped for some ripe Syrah from Kenwood
The yeast selection for this cuveé has been made, and this particular selection is a powerful one that will reliably finish fermentation in high-alcohol super-ripe red wines
Excited clients, family, and friends stop by the winery to celebrate a year’s worth of effort safely in tank
And once fermentation is complete a few weeks later, the wines are “barreled down” and the season is put to bed!
Click on these live-action videos to get the real feel of the moment:
Picking fruit by hand on a steep hillside
Filling a half-ton bin from the forty pound lug boxes
At the winery, raw fruit from the field is processed in the destemmer
After the harvest, some wine-loving friends gather to share ten special old bottles from our cellars:
- Botte Frères Vin D’Alsace Gerwertztraminer, 1990, Cuvee Exceptional
- Gundlach Bundshu, Sonoma Valley, 1990, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Clos Fourtet, 1st Grand Cru Classé, Saint Emilion, 2005
- Grand Vin De La Chateau Latour, Paula, 1990
- Haywood, Spaghetti Red, Sonoma Valley, 1983
- Silver Oak, Alexander Valley, 2003, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Hansen, Limited Release, Paso Robles, 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley, 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley, 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Senots Yendick, Napa Valley, 1999, Cabernet Sauvignon
And there’s just enough time before winter arrives for this winemaker to head off to Ennis, Montana for some fresh air