andy and cousin john on the crushpadThe 2010 Harvest Season is officially over. That doesn’t mean the work is done or the winemaking has ceased, but the backbreaking part of it is behind us. And in keeping with this year’s weird and wild weather — the rainy season that lasted until June, the heat wave after heat wave that followed immediately and other assorted phenomena that certain people will never believe have anything to do with Global Warming — we ended our season on a weird and wild note. Actually, we ended rather pathetically with most of us on the disabled list and a few pressing sessions where we ran out of steam and decided to feed the deer instead of press more grapes. Oh, and our Internet went down for a week. But that last may have more to do with the fact that I dared to disparage Facebook inventor, Mark Zuckerberg, or at least his movie representation in The Social Network. (See I had a secret suspicion that he really ran everything.)

Anyway, we’re back. Sort of. And putting ourselves back in the game. Now the play-by-play.

First of all, this was a season that would not have happened without our friend, Cousin John. Andy had conveniently scheduled all his business trips for harvest season, so it was often Cousin John, me and two terriers handling each of our several crushes.

cousin john drinking wine from a hose

Luckily Cousin John will work for wine. Which we let him drink out of the hose as we cleaned the pumping system.

Boy did we need Cousin John. In a year when grape yields were down by as much as 40% in Napa and Sonoma, our Mourvedre and Cabernet didn’t get the memo.

tubs of fermenting grapes

Which meant we had to scramble for fermenting containers. Besides our usual primary fermentation vats, our crushpad was littered an odd assemblage of picking bins and trash cans full of fermenting grapes.

Just as a side note: do you have any idea how long it takes to punch down, not just two primary fermentation vats, but a half dozen or so bins and tubs? Three times a day! Cue violins.

I think I also mentioned that we were attacked by wasps from the largest most extensive underground wasp lair probably ever seen in these United States.

john and jesus battle the wasps

Luckily John the Baptist throws aside his "Nature Boy" sensibilities when it comes to wasps. Here, he and Jesus bring out the heavy chemical artillery.

Finally, in one epic session that went on after dark, we pressed all that Cabernet and got the last of the wine out of primary fermentation and into steel tanks. Where they can go through secondary fermentation without my three times daily attendance.

cabernet pressing

The crush pad ran red. Until, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it was too dark to see.

andy and lucy exhausted

Boy were we tired! Even those of us who didn't do much more than bark.

Which is not to say that the work was over. There was still a crushpad, dozens of vats and tubs and equipment to clean and put away for the rest of the season. Then there was the threat of the rainy season that demanded we start shoring up vulnerable areas against flooding. That’s when Andy left on another trip, John the Baptist came down with the flu and Louis got bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider.

straw bale and wattles

Which is when I learned how hard it is to unload a truckload of straw bales and wattles. Cue more violins.

But have no fear! Everyone is back and in fighting trim now. John and Louis are building the Two Terriers equivalent of the Panama Canal to protect the subsiding slope of the lower vineyard.

jesus and water trench

Jesus is back and finally wearing appropriate headgear.

Pat digging a trench

And they brought Louis's friend, Pat, who is from the Pomo tribe.

Pat says John and Louis know more about native Sonoma plants and their medicinal use by his tribe than his tribal leader does. (But I bet John and Louis couldn’t run a casino!)

So that’s where we are now. And the weather report says we may have a week of sunshine and warm temperatures. Just enough time to get ready for the rains and get that crushpad cleaned up!

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