Joe Reynoso in the Vineyard

Joe Reynoso in his Estate Vineyard

Welcome back for Part Two of our Day in the Life of Harvest series!  Here at our Estate, we like to say that harvest is like our World Series: our crew has worked all year tending each vine by hand in order to bring our fruit to perfect ripeness.  The six to eight weeks of harvest are the culmination of all that hard work, and is when we see the results.  The days are long, arduous, sweaty, and sticky, but everyone is in great spirits because all of this means that our beautiful fruit is about to be safely in the winery, and we will get a bit of well-deserved rest from vineyard work for a couple of months.  Our vineyard foreman, Margo, and his right-hand man and brother-in-law, Javier, both live on the property, so they are delighted to see the growing year come to an end.

Tractor on the Vineyard

The job starts the same way; we get out to the vineyards early, while the weather is still cool, to protect the quality and integrity of the fruit. Once harvested, the grapes are loaded into bins and onto a truck, thus starting their journey to the winery.

The Grapes Arrive at the Winery

Grapes on the Sorting Table

Upon arrival, the grapes are put into a hopper that feeds the fruit onto a vibrating sorting table. Here the grape bunches are gently yet vigorously shaken to remove raisins, bits of stems, petioles, and shot berries.  The vibrating also spreads the bunches out to make it easier for those of us working on the line to pull out leaves and unwanted bunches by hand.   Once the fruit has been sorted in this way, it’s taken by elevator to the de-stemmer. The stemmer does just what you’d think it does: removes the berries from their stems.

Fruit Coming Through the Optical Sorter

Now that we’re left with nothing but berries, we put them through an optical sorter—not all wineries do this; it’s an additional sorting step that we choose to include so that only the best of the best is made into wine. The optical sorter is pretty incredible. It takes thousands of photos per second as the berries come through in order to identify unfavorable characteristics based on each grape variety’s desired size, shape, and color. Any grapes that don’t meet every calibrated characteristic are removed from the sorter with a small puff of air that blows the unwanted fruit into a waste receptacle. The remaining chosen berries are shot into a stainless steel bin, where they’re kept cool by dry ice. Once that bin has been filled, we transport it into the cellar, where the grapes are transferred into either stainless steel or concrete tanks, depending on the size of the lot.  They stay there for a two to three-day cold soak in preparation for fermentation.  All of our red wine lots will undergo a slow fermentation process at about 80F, and each day the wine will be pumped over 2-3 times per day.  Pumpovers take the juice from the bottom of the vessel and pump it up and over the cap (grape skins) to keep the skins moist, and allow for more juice to come in contact with the skins, which is where all the flavor and tannin is.  Once primary fermentation is complete, the wines will normally spend 2-3 weeks undergoing extended maceration, where the wine/must is cooled down and the juice just sits on the skins.  This adds additional color, tannin, and polyphenols to the wine without adding anything to the wine.  This extra step brings extra lushness, texture, and elegance, as well as added age-worthiness to the finished wine.

Crescere Barrel

Once extended maceration is complete, the free-run juice is drained into French oak barrels, both new and neutral, for secondary fermentation and aging.  Now with this complete, the wines begin their next long, slow stage of evolution: resting in these barrels for the next 16-22 months (depending on the grape and how it appears to be aging) before they will be moved to bottles for another year before finally making their way to you.

For now, it’s October, so we are just about done with harvest and a little rest for us is right around the corner.  Thank you for coming along with us as we brought in this year’s meticulously farmed fruit and prepared it for all that it’s meant to become. While we don’t yet know all that the future holds—all indications point to another stellar Crescere vintage!

Two bottles of Crescere wines in cream and tan Crescere box