Ever wondered what the typical day of a winemaker is like? No, not the romantic life of the beret-wearing winemaker you see in movies who spends his days in a picturesque villa sipping his fermenting wine and murmuring things like: “Eet is thee terroir.” I mean the grunts who do all the heavy lifting of the winemaking process. Not the glass lifting, but the bucket, sulfite and bin lifting work. These aren’t winemakers, they are “wine babysitters.” I are one.

Since one of us at Two Terrier Vineyards still has a day job, I’m the one who’s been living in a barn for six weeks babysitting the four varietals we’re trying to shepherd from harvest to crush through primary and secondary fermentation. With Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault now resting in oak barrels and only the Cabernet in primary fermentation, there’s more time to leisurely discuss the process. Or the process as it happens in my world.

First thing, you wake up a little before six AM because that’s when suddenly frantic terriers are pawing you and barking to go out.

#365+48: Everything is Illuminated

 

 

It’s pretty dark out now at six, so I’m keeping the barn lit up, as my husband would say, “like Blackpool Illuminations.” I know it’s not very energy appropriate, but since we’re way out in the wilds, I need the light perimeter to keep the resident Mountain Lion at bay. So at six, we’re walking gingerly around the available pools of light where we (hopefully) can see large felines before they leap on us and sever our vertebra.

When it’s finally light enough that we feel we can defend ourselves against large predatory cats, we begin the 1/2 mile walk from barn to crush pad. But first we have to stop at Lake Charles and bark at the water.

As we stroll through the vineyards, we pass many beautiful flowers in the Insectary. This is a dense planting of natives featuring year-round color and bloom to keep the beneficial birds and insects working to maintain pest-free grapes.

Heres an example of one of the plants in the Insectary.

Here's an example of one of the plants in the Insectary.

 

Its crucial at this point to check under EVERY BUSH for lizards.

It's crucial at this point to check under EVERY BUSH for lizards.

 

Finally we round the corner to the Crush Pad. Lucy leads the way.

Finally we round the corner to the Crush Pad. Lucy leads the way.

 

Heres our pitiful Cabernet harvest in these small grey containers. Behind are the white bins that hold one ton of grapes and where we fermented our other varietals. Our Cab harvest was so small, well be lucky to get a few case out of it.

Here's our pitiful Cabernet harvest in these small grey containers. Behind are the white bins that hold one ton of grapes and where we fermented our other varietals. Our Cab harvest was so small, we'll be lucky to get a few case out of it.

 

Still, the grapes are really foaming and bubbling as I punch them down. Fermentation is GO!

Still, the grapes are really foaming and bubbling as I punch them down. Fermentation is GO!

 

Then we do all the science stuff like checking temperature and specific gravity.

Then we do all the science stuff like checking temperature and specific gravity.

 

Everything is noted down in an extremely scientific manner.

Everything is noted down in an extremely scientific manner.

 

Now we go into the wine cave to check on the other varietals that are aging in oak. Quick, check for lizards!

Now we go into the wine cave to check on the other varietals that are aging in oak. Quick, check for lizards!

 

Then the half mile walk back to the barn through the vineyards. Thats the Insectary on the right.

Then the half mile walk back to the barn through the vineyards. That's the Insectary on the right.

 

We notice that the Toyon and Madrone trees are putting out berries.

We notice that the Toyon and Madrone trees are putting out berries.

 

That brings out the foxes. Lots of them judging by the amount of poo. Some of us taste this just to be sure it is fox poo.

That brings out the foxes. Lots of them judging by the amount of poo. Some of us taste this just to be sure it is fox poo.

So you know that old term “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.” We basically do this whole routine two more times. Then it’s dark and the critters and scary things are coming out. So we barricade ourselves in the barn.

 

Were so tired at this point, we collapse and listen to country music. This is Oscar enjoying the Bakersfield Sound of Buck Owens.

We're so tired at this point, we collapse and listen to country music. This is Oscar enjoying the Bakersfield Sound of Buck Owens.

That’s the drill. No romance. Lots of walking. Some scientific stuff. And lots of fox poo. Sante!

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