Crushing it in Sonoma
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area for a certain length of time you are bound to become acquainted with someone who owns a winery, co-ops at a winery grow their own grapes to make wine, OR 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.
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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 canceled making us available to see what it takes to harvest grapes for a crush firsthand!
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 friend's back and side yards. Here is me picking some of the Mourvedre.
Given how many of us there were and the relatively small plot, we made quick work of the picking and moved on to 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…).
Then the master winemaker cleaned food-grade containers which would become the receptacles for the grapes once they went through the crusher.
Next up was crushing them!
We all took turns taking the grapes and putting them through the crusher. It was fun to watch as the grapes moved through the metal teeth and exited the other side.
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!).
Of course, I love the macro shot, so I had to capture the “waste” because I loved how the light was hitting the green.
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!
The master winemaker then measured out organic chemicals to start the fermentation process so that he could turn grapes into wine.
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.
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!
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.
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!
This was followed by a beautiful tomato salad just picked from the vine
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.
We (or some of us) eventually moved on to Pappy Van Winkle's Kentucky Bourbon which was my first experience with bourbon!
Followed by a wonderful dessert, affogatos! And as you can see by the color of the light, lunch had turned into dinner!
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?Save
Interesting post; I have never seen the machinery used in the making of wine, nice post.
@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!
Looked like a lot of fun. Amazing. 🙂
@Eileen, thanks for stopping by, it definitely was!
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!
@Paula, they just called the spiders “protein” 🙂
OMG this looks amazing! I need one of these to support my love of wine!
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.
@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!
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!
@Christi, were you at McChord? My dad was stationed at Ft. Lewis, I went to high school in Steilacoom.
I so wish I had been able to extend my California trip to include a stop in Sonoma. This looks like a blast!
@Lindsey, next trip!
I’m glad there was no barefoot grape stomping. Know I need to find some friends who own a vineyard.
@Elizabeth, too many spiders. Having a friend with access to wineries is a definite perk!
Looks like you had a lot of fun!
great post with really great photos I would love to do what you do
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!
@Melissa, I think there are wineries in Virginia – you should look into it.
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.
@Beeb, after seeing all the spiders that were in with the grapes I am thankful to not have crushed with my feet!