Yesterday i was traded from morning crew to night shift. So after finally getting a full nights sleep for the first time in weeks, I woke up at a reasonable hour and accomplished some things that I had taken for granted when i worked normal people hours. Its amazing how long things get put off when you work every hour that other businesses are open. Being that i now start my shift at noon i was able to get a haircut and cash my last two checks. Sounds good right? But I would give that up in a minute to not have traffic on the way to work.
Six days out of the week. I wake up in my sleep. Before the sun rises rubb my blurry eyes. Gettin ready in a sleepy slumber, just a job I tell myself but its a bummer. I jump into my car, I really dont have that far. Driving down the road I barely see a soul. I drink my coffee from my cup, just to keep myself awake thats how much I need a break. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, they always go so slow. Thursday blows my mind, half way left to go. Friday is easy its just beyond my grasp. Saturday is the new friday I thought I would never last. Reality has a hold on me and it wont let go. I work all day and I try to save still there is nothing to show. What I wouldnt do to be unemployed rich and free. Someday I will wait and see not a thing to worry me. No more out late and night, I am waking up before the light. Is that really right? Or is my future painted bright?
I look at the dial against my will. Time seems to stand still. Mean while my mind is drifting far a way to a place where work is missing. I dream of a simple life without a care, I click three times but I am not thereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Living the dream~ Jacob.
Tank shoveling can be dirty business. Perhaps it is the most physical job in the winery. It requires crawling inside a dark, humid, wet, stinky tank and shoveling the contents out. No doubt shoveling wet berries, stems, and seeds is hard. However, being inside the tank you are standing in about 3-4 feet of fermented grape skins. The tank is wet and slippery its almost impossible to get solid footing. Once again the only way to get the contents out is through a small gate in the front of the tank. If this is not bad enough the fermented must is full of carbon dioxide, making the tank an oxygen deficient environment. Great precautions are taken when entering a tank of fermenting must. The tank is ventilated with a fan, the air is tested with air quality sensors, and a harness with oxygen sensors are worn by the person entering the tank. Another person known as the “attendant” waits outside with a large “hook” in case a person passes out inside the tank. The lack of oxygen causes a person to fatigue much quicker then usual when shoveling.Thankfully I survived to shovel another day. Here is a look inside a tank and a few shots of before and after. Special thanks to Rocha for the pleasant interview before risking my life.
Living the dream~ Jacob
It’s the end of a long week. And after a day of slamming my shin into a rung on a latter, and shoveling the slipperiest tank imaginable, I had to laugh a little when I saw the white limousine in front of me, on the drive home, roll down the rear window to allow one of its patrons to, well, evacuate the excess wine that had built up in their system. I’m sorry for laughing, and feel better whoever you are…
P.S. If that was Napa Cellars wine that would have never happened.
When the juice finally ferments to below 0.01 residual sugars, the “Must” is pressed. This process involves many steps. First of all the juice (we can officially call it wine at this point.) Is drained into another tank. What is leftover is all the skins and seeds that have been soaking in fermenting juice for about a week. This is when the fun starts. We shovel out the seeds and stems into a macro bin. This is only a small tank so most of the must can be reached from our little gate here.
On the bigger tanks somebody has to crawl inside to shovel out the must. On the largest tanks we have, (they hold about 45 tons of grape skins and seeds) we play a little game. If you can shovel it out in under 1 hour the company will buy you lunch. Needless to say this creates a very competitive atmosphere. I will keep you posted on the times when those get shoveled out.
Once all of the must is shoveled out it goes into a press. At first the press lightly squeezes the berries and gets any leftover wine out of them. That wine is pumped into its own special tank. Next, we crank up the pressure and really squeeze whatever might be left in the berries out. Since the berries and seeds have all the tannins, squeezing them produces really tanic dark wine. This juice is again pumped into its own special tank to keep all those tannins out of our nice clean wine. Later, if the winemaker chooses to, he will add little bits and pieces of these “pressed” wines to the “free run” wine until it reaches the desired tastes and texture. Things are fermenting well and moving really fast. Yesterday we drained and pressed about 10 tanks. Its a lot of hard work but somebody has to do it. As of the end of September we have received a total of 1344 tons of grapes. That breaks down into 466 tons in white grapes and 878 tons of red grapes. Only 2506 tons to go.
Living the dream~ Jacob.
After another 12 plus hour day consisting of mostly “rack and returns” which Jacob has already explained about. (although he did fail to mention how a rack and returns’ worst enemy is a white t-shirt. Unfortunately for me a white t-shirt was all that was clean this morning. Having not performed a rack and return so far this season I thought I might escape, but I was incorrect.Aftermath of a Rack and Return
Also I forgot to bring an extra shirt to go to the gym in. And nothing makes you more popular at the gym than having a strong smell of vinegar, yeast, and tartaric acid, as well as looking as though you have vomited on yourself.
Here is the wheel at the end of the day. It’s all clean and ready to get dirty again tomorrow. It’s been a long week. Monday will mark the start of an even longer week for us. For now it’s time to go home and get a days rest.
Living the dream~ Jacob
Its a hot Saturday afternoon and most of us have worked 12 hour days all week. Today is no exception. The crew looks ready for a day off. Its a smaller crew today since the night shift takes Saturday off, leaving the morning crew with a lot of work. But Sunday will be our one glorious day of rest. Here is a quick spin around the “wheel” This is where all the magic happens. We call it the wheel because the center is wide open and all the tanks go off of it like spokes on a wheel. Underneath is where the presses are in what we like to call “the Pit” I will venture down in the pit another day for now its back to the wheel for some more action.
Living the dream~Jacob