Harvest is that time of the year that most winemakers both love and dread at the same time. We love it because it is the culmination of an entire year’s worth of hard work and stress in the vineyard, and the beginning of the creative process of making special and beautiful wines. We dread it because it also means long hours of tremendous effort and hard work filled with tedious and intensive decision making, all of which with final and lasting consequences. It also means a huge shortage of both time and sleep.
Even though it signals the end of the growing season, the harvest means a new beginning. After a year of preparations, the grapes are harvested and all the hopes and dreams we have for this vintage are put to the test; and for winemakers, that is the most exciting part!
As I study and sample and analyze the grapes and plan the wines for this vintage, I always pause and wish I had enough foresight to see the future, most especially the weather. But, in all honesty, not having that ability is what makes winemaking alive, fun, and exciting for me. You take risks. Sometimes in making a unique wine, and sometimes a completely new product. Mostly (luckily for us!) those risks tend to pay off.
I well remember our venture into making a dry rosé many years ago. My wife Dushy, who in those early years ran the tasting room on weekends, had to almost force visitors to try it. In contrast, we now have people calling it “Summer in a Bottle” and the “Wine of the Hamptons” and we can’t make enough of it!
The entire process is magical and is somewhat like relationships and much of life. It takes a lot of time, luck, and skill with a lot of people helping in various ways to make something work and work well. But one of the key ingredients in each bottle of wine, as with life, is one that makes the distinct difference in being good or being great – courage.
So when you create – whether creating your own wines or applying these lessons to your own craft – be daring. Take that step onto the edge and try being a little different from the rest. With wine as well as in life, that ingredient called courage can make all the difference!