Hurry Up and Wait

I am not ready for summer to end.  Outside my window, purple Morning Glories are still blooming, and my first heirloom tomatoes just barely ripened.  It’s been an unusual summer here in Healdsburg.  This past summer has been the coldest on record in 50 years, with July fully 7 degrees below the annual average.  Most mornings have been swathed by soupy costal fog so dense it’s nearly drizzly.  And then just as the summer heat took us by surprise, local kids went back to school.  In fact, Wal-Mart has been promoting 25-cent crayons for weeks already.  Around me everything, except my tomatoes, points to autumn too soon.  Darker, longer mornings, fleeting summer light.    While the academic calendar nudges me ahead, Mother Nature lags behind, about two weeks behind according to local grape growers.  Most of the grapes in our neighborhood have finally turned purple, absent a few stubborn holdouts in shady vineyard corners.  It’s shaping up to be a late harvest. I suspect our first grape chemistries will start to trickle in just as our kids settle into school.  For the first year, I will be in charge of assessing the sugar and acid levels; I decide when to pull the gun and haul in our fruit.  And it makes me queasy.  I am going to rely heavily on our growers to help guide me through my first solo harvest season.  Harvest - you cut the cord (or literally cordon), and your babies leave the mama vine and suddenly become your responsibility.  I have spent months cold calling, begging, letter writing, and baking to procure the finest quality fruit from the best known growers in each region.  And now I have to do everything I can to not f*#$#*k it up!  It really hit home when Mark Pisoni said, “I will send you chemistries when you’re down south and fruit samples when you’re up north.”  Crap!  I can’t even identify “melon” or “pear” correctly in a finished wine let alone chew a grape, spit the seed and divine when it’s “done.”  Bruliam is growing up fast.

It’s hard to imagine that just two years ago we selected our first grapes from a pre-fab, drop down menu, with no real knowledge about how to make wine.  This year we are sharing vineyard space with some of the best respected names in the business.  Our barrels have been selected, wine plans detailed, and specific yeast strains ordered.  And now we wait.  The end of summer is always bittersweet, but I look forward to officially becoming your winemaker.