The sun is soft. Warm and soft. It rises each day and shines, cloudy or not, giving the leaves the energy needed to nourish the fruit, as it grows and then matures. Water. Water arrives from the sky at regular intervals. The amount needed to brings the grapes to maturity with the ideal balance of sugar and water.

The maturity is assessed at intervals, and as the fruit ripens, the estimation of the date of perfect maturity is more frequent and then a decision is made. On a Friday, soon to come will be Vendemage. The annual gathering of the grapes, and the traditional pressing to obtain the juice which in time and under watchful eye, will become wine.

Just wine? No, WINE. Wine by the natural method as it has been done for centuries. Simple wine without arrogance or pretense. Wine with the taste of the spring, summer and fall sun and rains. Pure, unadulterated wine, with nothing added and nothing taken away. From the trimming of the vines in the fall, done with meticulous care, to the cutting of the bunches of grapes, (cut not pulled) the following autumn, what is done?

These vines are tended by one or two men during the fall and growing season. The vines are trimmed in the fall to leave just the correct amount of stem and branch, such that in the spring the vine’s energy is spent for the most part on growing the grape, and not on making more long vines. But, not too short so that there is little delay getting the fruit to set in the spring and mature in the summer.

As fertilizer is needed, local natural products are used. What could be better than manure? And the farm has lots of it. Horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and several other species of things that eat and produce manure live on the farm. A perfect source of naturally occurring, plentiful, and perfect nourishment for the fruit to come. How the manure is aged and used is another discussion, not for this time.

Vendemage is a special event. The hands that cut these grapes are all local. They are neighbors and friends. They gather and work and sweat and laugh and tease each other. Some is light, some crude, but all well intended.

The grapes are carried to the press where the are smashed to extract the juice. The press is designed to crush the grape, just enough so that the seeds are not broken. That would leave a somewhat bitter taste in the wine. Yes, as in the old days, they are also pressed with feet.

The juice is transferred to large stainless vats. Here the fermentation process is carried out under very tightly controlled conditions. Instead of killing all the yeast types and then re-seeding with the specific yeast wanted for wine making, the predominant yeast is helped to flourish by the speed of fermentation, and this is achieved by controlling the temperature of the must. This allows the primary yeast to gradually take over and as the alcohol content rises, the unwanted yeasts are killed and only the primary yeast is left to complete the process. Unwanted yeasts? If they remained, they would not enhance the wine, but lend improper flavor. Nature has devised a method that as the alcohol concentration rises, only the principal yeast remains. But, the presence of the others is certainly beneficial since they leave subtle tastes and after tastes in minute amounts which gives the wine complexity.

Through the winter and into the spring and following summer and early fall the wine rests and matures. Bottling is done shortly before the next Vendemage. It is pumped and filtered and bottled in rapid sequence. The wine comes into contact with as little air as possible.

This bottle, just from the filling rack is taken to the table for the mid afternoon meal. It is ready, it is fresh, it is perfect. And each year it is different. As the sun and the rain differ from year to year, so does the wine.

Perfect and fresh.

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