Crushing it in Sonoma

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.

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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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23 Comments

  1. Carla
    October 14, 2012

    Interesting post; I have never seen the machinery used in the making of wine, nice post.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      October 15, 2012

      @Carla, I hadn’t either, it was real interesting. Of course the more grapes the bigger the machine you need, this is the hone version!

      Reply
  2. Eileen黃愛玲
    October 15, 2012

    Looked like a lot of fun. Amazing. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi
      October 15, 2012

      @Eileen, thanks for stopping by, it definitely was!

      Reply
  3. Paula @ Simply Sandwich
    October 15, 2012

    Oh my gosh Andi – the whole day looked amazing!! That tomato salad is beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing the day – and the fact about the spiders in the grapes. Never thought of that! Ha!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      October 15, 2012

      @Paula, they just called the spiders “protein” 🙂

      Reply
  4. Koren @ City Gal
    October 15, 2012

    OMG this looks amazing! I need one of these to support my love of wine!

    Reply
  5. Camels & Chocolate
    November 17, 2012

    I have been to Wine Country many times during harvest, but never been invited to participate in the crush! I envision Lucy in the barrel stomping on grapes, and come to think of it, THAT needs to go on my Life List.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 30, 2012

      @Kristin, I was bummed about not stomping but then I saw the ton of spiders in the grapes and I was pretty okay with it after that!

      Reply
  6. Christi-TX
    November 18, 2012

    I went on quite a few wine-tasting day trips when we were stationed in Sacramento. I never saw the crushing process but when we lived in Washington I saw apples being pressed into apple juice-that was an adventure!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 30, 2012

      @Christi, were you at McChord? My dad was stationed at Ft. Lewis, I went to high school in Steilacoom.

      Reply
  7. Lindsey
    November 19, 2012

    I so wish I had been able to extend my California trip to include a stop in Sonoma. This looks like a blast!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 30, 2012

      @Lindsey, next trip!

      Reply
  8. Elizabeth Bailey
    November 20, 2012

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

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

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

      Reply
  9. Daraya
    November 25, 2012

    Looks like you had a lot of fun!

    Reply
  10. Lori Alcorn
    November 26, 2012

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

    Reply
  11. Melissa Henry
    November 27, 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!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

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

      Reply
  12. Beeb Ashcroft
    November 27, 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.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

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

      Reply
  13. […] their backyard and every time we went to harvest their grapes and then enjoy a lovely meal outside (here and here), it further reinforced the idea that I wanted a big table for outdoor eating.  We […]

    Reply
  14. […] time last year I did my first wine harvest and had such fond memories of the day that when our friends invited us again, Mr. Misadventures and […]

    Reply

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