November 1, 2011
I am currently in the middle of an internship this fall at Sheldrake Point Vineyard in Ovid, NY. I started working on September 19th and I have been working a few days a week since then. The rain this year has really thrown the harvest off. We had a nice growing season right up until September when it started raining everyday. The rain delayed the progress of fruit ripening and caused lots of rot problems in the vineyard. The first grapes that were harvested at Sheldrake were Pinot Gris and that was the first day I helped out.
The first day of harvest, I headed up the hill to the winery and quickly jumped in with everyone else. Sheldrake hand picks all of their grapes, so my job on that first day was to dump the lugs grapes into the hopper that feeds the grapes into the crusher/destemmer. The grapes are then fed into either a tank for maceration or directly into the press. I’m not quite sure how many tons of grapes we processed that day, but my arms definitely felt it the next few days. Maybe I’ll build up some much needed muscle!
After we finished dumping all the grapes, we cleaned the hopper and crusher/destemmer which was a task within itself. Both pieces of equipment have a CIP (clean in place) system that should make them theoretically clean themselves. It works pretty decently with the hopper, but it is pretty much not worth doing for the crusher/destemmer. Instead, it makes more sense to just spray it out with a hose which is difficult due to the amount of small spaces that grapes can become stuck in. It was my job to spray off the paddles and cage used to destem the grapes. As I learned this summer, it is impossible to leave a winery with dry feet and harvest is just another testament to that fact. My pants, jacket and shoes were completely covered in mud and water! What a day!