Some kind of magic

– October 2018

During the history of mankind, fermented beverages have occupied a very special place in the diet, folklore and imagination. The process of transitioning fresh fruit, grains, honey, etc. to a relatively stable form of calories thru fermentation appears magical. The euphoric effects of the consumption reinforce this notion.

I first became captivated by this as a teenager and was allowed to make small batches of wine and beer (under parental supervision, of course). Over four decades later, this magical transition still enthralls me, resulting in 100+ hour work weeks and spending many nights at the winery when the work load requires. Rather than simply being enamored with the change from fruit to wine, what I’m most focused on now is trying to understand the grape material as it ripens on the vine and have an image of what its best destiny is. Right now, I am buried in the throes of this magical process and very much enjoying it, despite the significant fatigue.

The new 2018 vintage in the vineyards I work with offers higher than normal acidities, very low pH’s (great for longevity), deep color and wonderful balance of fruit/non-fruit flavors. September harvest of the Pinot Noir, Zins and Chardonnay was just about as perfect as one could imagine, cool moderate weather and beautiful fruit. The Cabernet Sauvignon absolutely adored the few rainy days around the first of October, the higher humidity and lower heat period finished off the ripening perfectly for my uses. Their aromas during fermentation are intoxicating and make me really look forward to their completion when their personality truly unveils. Nearly thru pressing the Pinot and closing in on the Zinfandel right now, I am grinning most of the day. These look to become lovely, spirited wines for the ages.

The original title for this would have been a rip-off of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s song title ‘Do you believe in magic?’ But having met and dined with John Sebastian a few times, I cannot dream of lifting his work. As you might imagine, he is a really loving, wonderful, magically talented man which is evidenced here at Woodstock. He told a few musical jokes on stage while improvising if you listen carefully. Improvisation is a key to winemaking as well, I think.

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