This portion of The Questing Feast is in the process of being built. Drop back frequently to watch it grow. It will deal primarily with California wines because that is what I am the most familiar with. I will build it appellation by appellation which is the way I am educating myself.
What does wine mean to me? I love wine, not just the drinking of it, but every aspect of it, from the planting of the vines, through tending them; the first bud break in the spring to the harvest of the grapes in the autumn and then the crush, the aging, the bottling and finally the enjoyment of that artistry and, the art of finding just the right food to accompany it.
The following is from an email I send to my love after having spent the day in the wine country. I meant it for him alone; since he couldn’t be with me, it was my way of sharing the day with him. He however, convinced me that I should post it here. I have left the intimacies in – they seem a part of it and why I wrote it...
How I do love living in the wine country – for me there is an exquisite romance in every aspect of wine, not just the drinking thereof. I was up at Harvest Moon on Olevet road again today – they’re crushing Zinfandel. Randy, the owner/winemaker, a lovely young man, showed me some of the bunches, (clusters) and pointed out why this will be a great vintage. Each bunch has a mixture of fruit; a few still pink berries (grapes) which will provide the necessary acid, the majority, a deep, deep black-purple with a lusty, gutzy flavor and a few that have begun to raisin. The raisins will give a deep, rich quality to the wine and also if desired, boost the alcohol content. Randy makes his wines in the lower range of alcohol – around 9%. A lot of wineries like to make their wines around 12% and some as high as 15%. Tasting the grapes was incredible. The Zinfandel raisins were to swoon over; the flavor was so rich and concentrate.
The day was glorious, a lovely warm glow in the air. The quality of light produced by the autumn sun always reminds me of the warmth of burnished old gold enhanced by a rich patina produced by many years of loving use. And the constant hum of greedy bees filled the air as well, sucking up as much juice as they could, and the rich, heady aroma of the ripe fruit, for everywhere the grapes are hanging heavy on the vines. Depending on the weather and the variety and the appellation, the harvest will most likely continue well into next month.
Randy was steaming last year’s barrels and the smell of that steam was divine; like, rich spicy plum cake fresh out of the oven at Christmas time. All this activity was taking place outside, but out of the winery itself there drifts that delicious, deep aroma, a musty, yet sweet smell, the smell of fermentation, not rot which smells sharp and rank, but the rich, comfortable, warm smell of fermentation, the smell of treasures yet to come...
Oh it’s crush time in the wine country – I’m so glad I life here. Yes, I do enjoy drinking wine, but there is so much more to it than that – and you can see it in the faces of these young, eager families who made the decision to work their back sides off as artisans creating a superior product that they and their families can be proud of. Yes the work never stops, well on occasion for a few weeks in the dead of winter, but these families work harder than anyone I have ever seen and they have a higher quality of life I think. Yes, I love wine, the production of wine in every facet and the regions of the world where the gracious grape grows.