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Weeks three and four at Hosmer

Old vine next to its young replacement

Hello from Cayuga Lake! Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy with a whole assortment of tasks about Hosmer Winery and Vineyards. Going to work has been exciting every day as most of what I have been doing is dependent on the weather, and Hosmer has been keeping myself and Emily completing new tasks each day.

A couple of weeks, ago, the weather has absolutely beautiful, clear and sunny. Out in the vineyards, many of the vines need replacing as they have died due to frost damage. A team of employees including myself, Emily, Carfora, and Hosmer, went through the process of using a “sabertooth” vine extractor  invented in the Finger Lakes was used to pull out the old gnarled vine and a new one year vine planted.

Running out wires to build trellises.

There is also a new planting of about an acre of Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian grape variety that has recently increased in popularity. These one-year old vines will grow at least six feet tall this season, so we’ve been staking them and thinning the shoots to two trunks where necessary. I’ve learned fast the value of ergonomics to help prevent  serious back soreness. I’ve also learned that 1) hats are a godsend and 2) audiobooks and the “20 questions game” are very helpful in keeping the mind focused on repetitive vineyard work. Without someway of keeping engaged, it is hard to keep up a good pace.

Cleaning the precision sprayer. It allows for more efficient and responsible use of fungicides.

The weather, as with any agricultural enterprise, is a very important part of everyday work. When it started to thunderstorm over the past few weeks Hosmer has been going out to spray in preparation for the inevitable fungal onslaught.

That is not to say that he unnecessarily sprays chemicals, as that would be a waste of time, money, and has environmental implications. Hosmer prides himself for and holds up his company brand to sustainable viticultural practices. He also values cleanliness, and, along with Aaron Roisen, seems to agree with the saying that “wine-making is 90% cleaning”. I would agree almost entirely, except that moving the wine might make up a solid chunk of the time as well.

On most of the rainy days and many other mornings, Aaron, Emily and I have been recently bottling much of the wine that was made in 2012. The winery bottles about 10,000 cases of wine a year, which is about 100 of the below seen “skids of glass”, much of which needs to be cleared out of the fermentation tanks in preparation of a fast arriving harvest.

Unloading a skid of glass which contains 104 bottles or 12,480 bottles.

Bottling Line- a $30-40,000 machine that is co-owned by Hosmer.

So far, I’ve learned how to run the bottling line and trouble-shoot many of the issues that inevitably come up. This machine is divided into two sections that first fills and corks the wine and the second caps, seals, and labels the bottles. Although very efficient, it is a finicky set of machines that takes three people to run and watch very carefully. At this point, it is second nature to be wary when around one, but lately, to all of our relief, the ghost in the machine has been relatively passive.

Other than the tasks so far mentioned, there have been many others to keep me busy. In the picture below, I am standing in front of fourteen, six year old french oak barrels and two new, $1,000 french oak barrels. They all contained 2012 chardonnay, and it was an incredible experience to taste the difference between the two aging processes. The new french oak was heavy, very well rounded, and intensely spicy while the older ones were much less pronounced. The difference between the two was like night and day, but all of these barrels were mixed on the day that this photo was taken and will be bottled by the time I post next.

French Oak and me.

On that note, I think that I will conclude my post. Until next time, ciao!


  1. Brooke Parsons says:

    The bottling machine we have here at the winery I am at is also super finicky. We have to top-off a lot of the bottles that don’t get filled all the way, do you have to do the same??

  2. says:

    Haha, luckily, we don’t have to do that. The bottling and labeling machine has been much more tame the last few weeks. We have been needing to take the wines that are usually chilled and leave them in another tank to warm up to room temperature before bottling. If the wine is too cold the wine bottles will sweat and the labeler will occasionally, to everyone’s exasperation, slip up, and stop the entire line. Hope Spain’s been amazing!

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