Once all the fruit was in, she let breaths escape, but only for a minute, two maybe. There was the fermentations and everything in her mind going about all ways which and it wouldn’t stop. Harvest was over but wasn’t.
It was 2:52PM and she wanted to go home, just to take a nap, rest her eyes at the very least. But it was still going, there were brix-and-temps to do and two of her interns called in sick. So it was really just her. She hadn’t done this many B&T’s, soon wouldn’t have done, since harvest before last. Did she still now how to do it? “Let’s see,” she thought, “Chard tanks.. Merlot.. barreled Zin…” So much on the plate but she couldn’t duck it. Not this year with this kind of yield. So she pressed on, went to the coffee machine made a double and went forward.
“How’s everything looking?” the Winemaking Director asked.
“Haven’t gotten through ‘em yet, I’m on my way,” she said.
He rolled his eyes, walked away, so did she. To the tanks, barrels afterward. The first tank, F-24, was a smaller tank for just a over a thousand galls of Cab. Sample.. 6 brix.. 87 degrees. Already strong fruit and texture conviction. She tasted again and saw something different for the wine than what they wanted, what they thought would be marketable. But she followed orders. “This is a small business,” someone told her years ago when she first started in the lab, “you don’t want to develop a bad reputation.” So the reputation she feared and always wanted to preserve, stay away from, maintain and polish, keeping her ideas at bay and in the basement of her mind with other wines she’d made and wanted to forget about, the ones they made her make. She dumped the rest of the Cab out, down the drain between the larger 5,000 gal tanks. And to the Merlot.
On the Merlot, she decided to lower the temp a bit, hoping it would still be what they wanted but just a different way of getting there. Brix, just under 3, and already with a bit of detectable alcohol, which she didn’t usually like but it did something to the fruit’s momentum, allowing that true Merlot voice, what the old world wants conveyed, to be conveyed. Slow stroll around the tank farm with her glass about three ounces full, swirling and smelling, not too many sips, forgetting where she was and the timetable, their bloody timetable. She was a winemaker with a relationship with and in wine that they could never have or understand or ever hope to appreciate.
After everything tasted, and everything noted and recorded, she could go home. But not before opening a bottle from three vintages ago, a Chalk Hill AVA Chardonnay, one on which she offered some insight to her friend, the winemaker. Pouring about four ounces, maybe less, she swirled, just watched the wine fly and dance on the glass’ sides. Forgetting and remembering, more stories and harvest thoughts placed in a sipped pause.