In winter, the vines are dormant; all the sap has returned to the roots. As farmers, we welcome winter as a time of rest and reflection, a time to integrate the experience of the growing season, a time to dream. Sure, there is work to be done in vineyard in the winter, and even in the winery, yet we move at a different pace in this season. The urgency of harvest is behind us; now, there is time for herbal tea after lunch, snowy sunset walks, mending clothes and telling yarns. The main task in the winter is pruning the vines, which is quite enjoyable despite the winter weather. We burn our vine cuttings in a burn barrel on wheels, which you can see above right. This is a merry scene on a cold day, the pruning team warming their hands by the crackling fire. We will do some winery work in the winter, maybe bottling a sparkling wine or pressing some long-cured apples, otherwise the wines are resting for the winter on their lees. We also dream in the winter, about what is possible in the world, and how we can make it better. This means winter is essential to a balanced farmer.
In the Spring, sap rises and the vine awakens from its dormancy, bursting new buds from the vine shoots we selected while pruning last winter. This is the time of new beginnings, vitality abounds, and we begin to prepare for the farming season ahead. We walk the vines almost everyday, the new shoots growing so fast you can almost see it happening, the songbirds returning from the south and with them their uplifting songs. After the shoots have grown for about a month, flowering happens, after which we see the first small green berries appear on the vine. These will slowly grow in size, and the vine shoots will continue their rapid growth, adding leaves and sending out new shoots.
In the Summer, one might feel wild, floating on the hot July breeze, or content, holding a bouquet of flowers. The vines are celebrating the sunshine, their canes growing every which way, swaying and floating in the afternoon wind. The storms are intense, thunder and lightning from the West, sometimes 2 inches of rain in 24 hours. The vines are accumulating sunlight in preparation for ripening the grape bunches, which are now quite large. In early August, the grapes begin to change color from green to their final color, either purple, red, gold, or green - we call this veraison, and at this time we stop all sprays and remove diseased leaves and berries by hand. We also remove a few leaves around some grape clusters that are too shaded so they can get better air circulation and light on them. The anticipation of harvest is in the air with slightly cooler nights, and so we are ensuring all tanks and fermenters are accounted for and clean, as picking the grapes will happen soon.
Autumn is the harvest season! This is the most wonderful of year, full of celebration and concerted communal effort to transform the fruits of our labor into wine, real wine made with care and curiosity! We revel in the mystery and joy of spontaneous fermentation. Harvest is the time to be grateful for your community, appreciating their role in making local farming a reality. It is a time to share abundance, connection, and contentment, songs and laughs, a time to feel alive, fully human. We pick our grapes by hand, and sort out the damaged or diseased berries right in the vineyard, so only the good grape bunches make it to the winery. We then foot stomp and begin the fermentation process, continuing to pick grapes until they are all in, usually around mid-October. Then, it is time to begin apple harvest season, which usually continues up until mid/late November. Harvest is the ancient ritual between humans, earth, and cosmos; sacred.