Today was the first day of picking for Bergström Wines…always a celebration. The beginning of harvest is a wonderful feeling of achievement and anticipation. The farming season is drawing to an end but the time for winemakers to shine is now. The crew assembled in the dark under the stars in the Bergström Vineyard this morning. The fruit bins were taken off of the flatbed truck and placed in Block 1, a south facing block of Dijon clones 777 and 114 on Riparia Gloire (always one of the ripest and first blocks to be picked and one of the blocks responsible for the “Whole Cluster Selection.”)
Unlike other vineyards, Bergström Wines does not pay our crew by the bucket but by the hour so that we can carefully select the best clusters and sort out unwanted clusters or berries in the field before the fruit reaches the winery. That said, the fruit is then carefully picked over one last time upon the sorting belt to ensure that only the best clusters are being used for our wines. Having
studied in Burgundy and seen harvests in the old world, I believe in a slower paced careful study of the fruit as it is being harvested rather than a frantic race to fill buckets with fruit, leaves, rocks, pruning shears etc. Our vineyard men work hard all year long towards a qualitative goal so I prefer that we finish the year on the same note. The crew members slowly made their way through the block and filled roughly 18 bins, singing, laughing and celebrating the end of a year. The fruit was then whisked away to the winery for final inspection and de-stemming. Sorting went into the afternoon hours. I chose to use 50% whole clusters with the Dijon 777 clone and I put the must into a 2-ton French Oak fermentor. The 114 was destemmed at a slightly higher rate of 90% and put into a stainless steel temperature controlled tank. This fruit will now soak on its skins to extract color and aromatic precursors for 3-10 days before being inoculated with a native yeast strain.
As usual the lunch was prepared by David Bergen of Tina’s Restaurant in Dundee . David has been cooking for our harvests since 2003 and is a great component of our harvest celebration. Today we had Beef stew with carrots and skillet fried potatoes toppeed with sour cream and a Chile Verde with plenty of Tina’s homemade bread to soak up the rich broth. It is important to stop during the day and rest and fill the belly with soul-food and breathe in the change happening around us. Fall is here and colors are appearing in the trees and in the vineyards and the sky is changing from a deep blue to a pale fading color.
The temperature soared today to what felt like 90 degrees but probably measured out at 85-87F. The 10 day forecast is beautiful with clear skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 70’s. So far this vintage is presenting itself to be a mixture of 2003 and 2001. Large crop with full cluster sizes like 2001 yet very ripe with high sugars and lower acids like 2003. The fruit we saw this morning was beautiful and the picking schedule is filling up quickly as fruit is ripening at a very fast pace now. 6 tons down…200+ to go.