A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



The Last Press

"Crush 2011" officially ended at Ankida Ridge this past week when we pressed the last of our grapes.  Crush, in the wine industry, is that time of year between the beginning of harvest and the end of processing the fruit, with much of the action happening on the "crushpad"( above.)  After  the de-stemming (for red grapes) and sorting, then fermenting and pressing, the juice is put either into barrels or tanks to undergo the aging process.  This is a time of year like no other for those in the viticulture/wine-making industry.  The demands on body and mind are rigorous.  The days are long and strenuous. But, oh how I will miss it all.  There's an electricity, an energy in the air that is vibrant, exciting and so very rewarding.

For the grower, harvest is the culmination of a growing season full of challenges.  With the picking of the fruit, the grower then passes the baton to the winemaker and with that comes a sense of relief the grapes are off the vine and at last free from dangers that lurk there!  Now that we are making our own wine here, I don't have to say goodbye to my grapes, and I can continue to be involved it their transformation into wine, and that is so gratifying for me.  

For the winemaker, the responsibility now falls into his/her hands to create the wine, to oversee the entire crush process, to keep the juice safe from bacteria, spoiling, etc. and tend to the slow progression of the aging process.  Nathan has done an amazing job in the winery and I am his willing helper! 

He moves with precision; coordinating bins and barrels, sniffing juices, tending to a multitude of equipment parts. Siphoning, measuring, testing, punching, pressing, lifting, pushing. It's all a ballet of sorts, a grand production after a year of preparation!  Thank you, Nathan!  Great job!

While the grapes are fermenting, the entire winery is filled with the yeasty, sweet fragrance of the fermenting fruit.  The fruit needs to be "punched down" twice daily at first.  I love punching down the fruit.  There is a punchdown tool designed for this purpose, but I prefer to punch down my Pinot grapes with my hands, usually listening to Bach or Mozart!  As the rising cap of fruit is pushed down into its own juices, a purple, bubbling sweet juice rises and the fragrance is entrancing... vapors of summer sugars permeating the air I breathe.  The juice up to my elbows is so warm... my last contact with the grapes I cared for all season.  It fills the senses.

Our wines are now all in barrel and we sniff the wine nearly daily to be sure no off odors are developing. The wines have a beautiful smell and are developing a lovely, early aging flavor. We will watch them closely over the winter and spring months and care for them just as we did in the vineyard, cherishing the opportunity to create a vintage to savor, enjoying the fruit produced in 2011 as the years go by .

The vintage of 2011 also gave us the latest addition to the Ankida Ridge Vrooman Family Vineyard's roster.  Introducing Curran Wells Lucas, born Sept 15 to our daughter, Tamara and hubby, Gary.  And right in the middle of crush season!  More excitement and goodness added to the 2011 vintage!

Our Wine Club has officially opened and first shipments are on their way!  We will not be selling this first 2010 vintage anywhere but through the winery and Wine Club shipments.  Our production is extremely limited.  If you want to buy any wine, click here for more info.

And... we are now open for "Personal Tour & Tasting" visits.  Click here to learn more about how you can visit us.

We look forward to your visits and sharing our wines with you!
Our Wine Club insert, delicious recipes included!

   Bon appetit and cheers!!

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