Friday, September 25, 2009

Rest, relaxation become a thing of the past for winemakers once harvest season gets started

Sometimes I'll rag on winery owners for not calling me back right away.

Then there's the other side; not posting information for a week or two from winemakers and owners who DO call me back. That's the case with Jason Price at Twin Brook Winery in Gap, Pa., where large crowds are expected these next two weekends as part of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail's Harvest Festival.

He called me a few weeks ago in response to an e-mail about the harvest, one he noted can begin as early as late August and continue into November. They grow 12 varieties of grapes at Twin Brook; the earliest to come off the vine are the Foche and Cayuga grapes and the latest are the Cabernet Sauvignon.

"Not the case for this wonderful vintage," Price said about the timeliness of the ripening, which has been delayed several weeks by all the rain. "That's not the case everywhere. Southeastern Pennsylvania there seems like there are all these microclimates that have their own thing going on, but we're experiencing some real delay in ripening."

It hasn't quite provided the same number of horror stories as the 2003 vintage, the worst this decade."I wasn't here then," he said, " but I know that was a real challenging year and I think this year is really giving '03 a run for its money."

Price said the days are long during the several months of harvest, up and picking with the sun and then into the cellar to crush and press the grapes and get them into the tanks. "It can be a 16-hour day," he said. "Last week, Tim [Jobe] and I ran 22 hours straight. We were doing Cayuga, some grapes we got in Gettysburg, and by the time we got all the grapes back and cleaned up the press and locked the door, it was 22 hours straight."

But, like accountants during tax season, there's no sense griping about it. "You realize [the hours are going to be long this time of the year]," Price said. "You can't complain about it because you know about [the long hours during harvest] when you went into it."

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