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Winemaking Through the Year

In modern times it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day and forget what time of year it is. Our lives are often so separated from the natural world that whole seasons pass us by.  This disconnect is not possible if you're a winemaker.  Every season, every month has its obligations, its tasks, its discoveries.  Since it's the quiet time of year, I have a few moments to walk you through the year:

Winter: The winery gets some love.  Repairs, equipment maintenance and planning for the coming calendar year happen.  Re-organization of the tool room and cleaning out the storage closets.  The wines are sleeping and too young to enjoy, just tasting and topping.  Sales are usually slow, so catching up on emails and enjoying a well-deserved vacation.  The vineyard gets pruned and a cover crop is grown.

Spring:  The vines start to come out of dormancy and worries of frost reappear.  If you're a vineyard manager there are many sleepless early mornings.  Better have your wind machines on the ready.  Consumers start buying again, so sales visits increase and event season starts.  Wines start to wake up and blending plans begin in earnest.  Time to get your labels approved for the summer bottling.

Summer:  Getting ready for the harvest.  Blending and bottling time, so better put in your glass and label orders, count your leftovers from last year.  If you make white wine or rose, it's running out the door.  Try to stay cool by doing early morning vineyard work, training the vines up for the year, mowing down the cover crops.  Hopefully get a backpacking trip in before the harvest comes again.

Fall:  Harvest is the best time of the year, the busiest, but best.  You finally get to really make wine again.  The grapes are ready, call the pick, process, clean, repeat.  You have to wake up early and go to bed late.  Fermentation management and barrel work, lot of refreshing beers after work.  Harvest interns bring life to the party and are gone before you know it.  Sales take a hiatus, only to be resumed at breakneck speed once harvest is a wrap.  Usually you limp into Thanksgiving, eat and drink like a king and come away with a big smile.  You did it!  All the wine is in barrel, the winery is getting boxed up again and another vintage is in the books.  December is a time tie loose ends and celebrate the coming of another great year.

Life doesn't suck when you do something different every day.