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Michael Patland
 
September 24, 2015 | Michael Patland

A Glimpse Into Crush

This morning I finally got the call to come into the winery. I was so excited; it would be my first time really experiencing crush. I had no idea what I was in for...

After a rough start morning, I raced down Soda Canyon Road to get to The Caves at Soda Canyon--where all our wine is made. When I got there, production was going at full force! Jay quickly found his way to me and motioned for me to follow. Staying close on his heels, I stepped over hoses, into puddles, around buckets, and maneuvered around just about everything else you'd find in a winery. My first job: Stem Sorting

Soon after, I moved up the platform to cluster sorting. Basically removing moldy clusters, leaves, lizards, raisins, and other critters. In no time, all of the Unti Vineyard Zinfandel was sorted and ready to ferment. Then came my next job, hand destemming our estate Malbec. That only took a couple hours... Luckily, I was being well supplied with IPAs. Lastly, I was assigned to do a punchdown on our Port.

For those that don't know, a punch down pushes the "cap" of grape skins down into the juice. We do this for a few reasons. First of all, it allows the juice--soon to be wine--to extract color, tannin, and flavor from the skins. Second, the yeast involved in the fermentation process actually requires some oxygen to survive. The cap forms a seal, blocking the flow of air into the juice. So we punch it down. 

Thing is, our Port had a two foot cap that just didn't want to break. I'll just say this wasn't the easiest job I've ever had, and I certainly have more respect for the people that do this daily. Also, I'm a much bigger fan of the pump over method now! 

So here I am, my first day of crush behind me. My hands are purple, my clothes are sticky, and I've got a big smile on my face. 

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