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Crushing it in Sonoma

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If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area a certain length of time you are bound to become acquainted with someone who owns a winery, co-ops at a winery, grows their own grapes to make wine OR with someone who has a friend who does any of the aforementioned activities. It is inevitable, trust me! But despite having lived here off and on for the past 20 plus years, I had never actually attended a wine crush.

That is until last Saturday.

Mr. Misadventures and I were invited by a friend at work to participate in a wine crush at his home. It is something he has invited me to for the last three years, but as we are typically in Europe this time of year, so we’ve always missed it. As luck would have it (!), our Italy trip was cancelled making us available to see what it takes to harvest grapes for a crush first hand!

We could not have asked for better weather as we arrived at 10:00 a.m. to get started. After a quick mimosa the troops were gathered (10 of us in total) to pick the three different grape varietals in my friends back and side yards. Here is me picking some of the Mourvedre.

Andi picking Mourvedre

Photo credit: Theresa Pulido

Given how many of us there were and the relatively small plot, we made quick work of the picking and moved onto the next phase, the measuring. In total there were 400 pounds of grapes enough to make many cases of wine that will be ready to taste in one year (hmmm, do I sense a need to return to try the “fruits” of our labor…).

Bins of Grenache

Photo credit: Theresa Pulido

Then the master winemaker cleaned food-grade containers which would become the receptacles for the grapes once they went through the crusher.

Grape crusherNext up was crushing them!

We all took turns taking the grapes and putting it through the crusher. It was fun to watch as the grapes moved through the metal teeth and exited the other side.

Grapes entering the crusher

Grapes entering the crusher

Extracted grape stems

Extracted grape stems

Where the good stuff ended up

Where the good stuff ended up

As I am prone to clumsiness I had to be careful not to get crushed myself. In my enthusiasm to lean over to watch the process and marvel at how many spiders were trying to escape, I almost got my sweatshirt pulled into the gears (the blog is called misadventures for a reason!).

Adding grapes to the crusher

Of course, I love the macro shot, so I had to capture the “waste” because I loved how the light was hitting the green.

Grape stems

As well as the “good stuff” destined to be the wine. Which at this point tasted like really fresh-squeezed grape juice….because it was!

Essentially grape juice

The master winemaker then measured out organic chemicals to start the fermentation process so that he could turn grapes into wine.

Magic wine-making powder

Magic wine-making powder

While all this wine-making process was taking place, there were a few other activities going on. The wife of the master winemaker, the lovely Ms. Theresa who visited these parts last year when I highlighted her delightful business Color Crazy, is one smart cookie. She knew she had extra hands for the day and one humongous garden so she set some of us to work picking tomatoes and peppers which would end up as part of our lunch.

Harvested tomatoes and peppers

Photo credit: Theresa Pulido

And like any good wine-making family in Sonoma, my friends installed a Pétanque court in the backyard where a fierce game between adults and mini-adults took place!

Pétanque

Manual labor complete it was time to celebrate with lunch. This took place in the backyard on a lovely table perfect for outdoor meals. My friends have the kind of backyard that I always imagine when I think of homes in Provence, when the weather is good (and the weather is good a lot in Sonoma) you can live back there. And entertaining is magical.

Beautiful backyard table

We began with a little apéro (well it might have been heavier that “little”) that consisted of foie gras that we brought from France and rabbit pâté from our favorite local bistro in Berkeley, Cafe Rouge. With of course wine!

Foie gras and rabbit pâté

This was followed by a beautiful tomato salad just picked from the vine

Frech picked tomatoes

As I was hungry I forgot to take pictures of the other dishes! There was a lovely grilled steak with fresh grilled vegetables and a mushroom pizza (which I did manage to capture in one of my table shots) – everything fresh and organic and all washed down by amazing wine.

Mushroom Pizza

We (or some of us) eventually moved on to Pappy Van Winkle’s Kentucky Bourbon which was my first experience with bourbon!

Pappy Van Winkel's Kentucky Bourbon

Followed by a wonderful dessert, affogatos! And as you can see by the color of the light, lunch had turned into dinner!

Affogatos
I don’t know what other wine crushes are like, but this one has got me completely spoiled! The day was magical.

How about you? Have you ever participated in a crush?

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Traveler Tuesday - Andi Perullo of My Beautiful Adventures
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Beeb Ashcroft

Tuesday 27th of November 2012

So you didn't get to stomp any of them with your feet? I know they have machinery for these things now, but I was still expecting to see pictures of you in a giant vat of grapes stomping around, haha! :) This looks like a really interesting experience. I love to learn new skills...and drink wine, so it combines my interests! The food looks so good, too.

Andi

Thursday 29th of November 2012

@Beeb, after seeing all the spiders that were in with the grapes I am thankful to not have crushed with my feet!

Melissa Henry

Tuesday 27th of November 2012

What an amazing experience! Love your photos capturing each moment. I felt like I was there also. I have always wanted to do something like this but since we have moved from California now, I don't know when I will get the chance. It is for sure on my bucket list though!

Andi

Thursday 29th of November 2012

@Melissa, I think there are wineries in Virginia - you should look into it.

Lori Alcorn

Monday 26th of November 2012

great post with really great photos I would love to do what you do

Daraya

Sunday 25th of November 2012

Looks like you had a lot of fun!

Elizabeth Bailey

Tuesday 20th of November 2012

I'm glad there was no barefoot grape stomping. Know I need to find some friends who own a vineyard.

Andi

Thursday 29th of November 2012

@Elizabeth, too many spiders. Having a friend with access to wineries is a definite perk!