A very special harvest

When we returned from our little family vacation the 3rd week of August I thought we’d still have plenty of time until the rush begins. The first visitors arrived. It was a perfect summer week and dinner feasts were still taking place in the yard.

It was a pleasure having our dear friend Sabine around during harvest to take care of all things food. Her fireworks of (almost only) vegetarian dishes blew us away every day. Just look at these cauliflowers!

Although Victor & I had pretty much everything ready to go there were still a few jobs left. You can’t clean (thoroughly) enough anyway and if you haven’t handled a pressure hose and a foam sprayer before it’s a good idea to practice a little before it gets hectic.

And like every year it starts out of the blue with sugar levels exploding and acid levels dropping all of a sudden. But the sun kept shining, grapes were perfectly healthy and looked crispier and fresher then some did last year.

The first days kept being relatively relaxed though so there was enough time to enjoy these beautiful sandwiches made of freshly baked bread, salad from the rise bed our friend Matt built earlier this year (more later) and veggies, veggies, veggies.

And then Silvaner partly had to be picked before Müller-Thurgau and everything was ripe at the same time. But. Every vineyard we picked didn’t fill the tank or barrel it did last year. I started comparing numbers. The Schwarzriesling for the Fledermaus was about half of last year. And then I started getting concerned.

You have to make the best out of it though. So instead of using the destemmer I pulled out the destemming board I built years ago (it’s a crappy construction but it works) and our crew destemmed all of that Schwarzriesling by hand for a classic carbonic maceration. Wasn’t the last time we used that tool.

What we couldn’t complain about (few exceptions of course) was the grape quality. The berries were enormously tasty and relatively small what helped a lot keeping them healthy. After years of experiments our Grauburgunder vineyard will be fully skin-fermented. We got it just at the right time for a perfect sugar-acid balance. And look how nicely it got defoliated by our sheep!

Same for the Heimat Silvaner, always one of my harvest highlights. If only all vines had as many bunches as this one.

And suddenly we were almost done after 2.5 weeks only. One of the last days we spend at the baby vineyard picking just enough to fill a couple of Demijohns to compare a few varieties of this upcoming field-blend. And being just next to our garden anyway we picked all the wild tomatoes I planted next to our pond earlier this year.

Because of the concerning quantities I decided to buy more grapes than I had planned originally which made for some extra picking days. Summer was over by that time and it started raining every now and then.

But with reinforcements rolling in – my friend Andi Weigand sent us his remaining crew – we light-speed-picked some additional Silvaner and our young Riesling as well. And there was even enough energy left to decorate the car for the last transport of the year.

With a few peeps staying here for a little longer we took on a couple of extra projects. Like building more raised beds …

… collecting walnuts …

… and pick apples for a future cider.

It was an interesting experience producing juice a little more professionally than last year. A lot to learn again. We’ll definitively need a more appropriate crusher next year. And we won’t need more apple vinegar next year. But the majority worked out beautifully and is still fermenting in old oak. I think it will be awesome. I mean, look at these apples!

Towards the very end we had our friends Bene & Jana from MS Zufriedenheit joining Sabine in the kitchen for a day.

Bene brought a car load of food and plates to prepare a feast our old cellar hasn’t seen before. Andi & his crew joined the party as well, it was a night to remember.

As the October rain helps garlic & rocket growing in the newly built raised beds the winery has become a quiet place again. Finally time to take a deep breath and start preparing for the final transition with my parents retiring by the end of the year. The last conventional pallets & boxes are leaving the storage, it’s a very special time. But more about that another time.

So – finally a big thank you to everybody being here this harvest! It’s been a pleasure working with all of you, watching you learn, develop new ideas & plans and going back to the world inspired by what we all developed & achieved together the last weeks. I’m sure many of our paths will cross again.

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