The warmer than average summer and the spectacular start to September paved the way for the earliest harvest date we’ve ever seen. As usual, the timing was forced a bit by rain, but in the end the quality was right where we wanted it.
The harvest dates were set for September 15, 16 & 17, so Ben booked his flights home. Unfortunately his trip didn’t work out as planned. The flight from Calgary to Comox on the 14th made two passes at the runway, but couldn’t get find enough clear air to land, so had to divert to Vancouver. However, Vancouver shut down for fog when the flight was about halfway there and the jet took a left hand turn for Kelowna. After a brief fuelling stop in Kelowna, the flight returned to Calgary, and Ben had to spend a night in a hotel. The next morning the flight Ben had been rescheduled to was delayed several times, and ended up being 3 hours late leaving. Sadly for all aboard, the approach to Comox was again aborted, and this time we diverted to Victoria where a bus to Comox was arranged. The bus finally pulled into the Comox parking lot 24 hours (to the minute!) after the scheduled arrival. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Jill had to cancel on Flavour so she could get the winery set-up. Ken and Tak helped out with getting the grapes and then crushing and pressing. Mitzi and Val were on babysitting duty. Ben got back to the farm at 9, just in time for the last press and all of the clean-up. All done by 11:30
On Monday it was time to pick our grapes and the Siegerebbe from Terra Nova, our motley crew of pickers, consisting mostly of retired neighbors, assembled at 9:30 and headed up to Terranova to get started. We were very disappointed to find that the vineyard was infested with fruitflies and the grape smelled like vinegar. After trying to salvage something, we gave it up as a lost cause and dumped what we had.
We were happy to see that our grapes were still in excellent condition and we spent the rest of the day (until 6:30) picking and crushing. Of course things in the winery went later and we didn’t wrap up until midnight.
On Tuesday we started off by dropping the totes off at Nevermore, transferring juice, starting fermentations and general clean-up. We got a panicked call late in the day saying that all the totes were full and they needed one more. Fortunately, Ken’s friend M was over and Ben was able to borrow his truck to take the tote over. There were 7 very full totes and 3 primary fermenters full of grapes, and they didn’t get to the winery until 6:30! After that it was a constant cycle of crush, press, clean until the last press finished up around 2 and the bulk of the cleaning wrapped up at 3. It was the most Ortega we’ve done in a single day, and the total between Sunday and Tuesday was the most Nevermore has ever produced.
The girls took pity on us and slept in until 7:30, but there was still a lot to do in the winery and we only barely got it all done before Ben had to leave on the 4pm ferry to go back to Fort McMurray.
Jill had to transfer juice and clean tanks on her own on Thursday… (And was still working after putting the girls to sleep!) Now She’s trying frantically to keep the fementation temperatures cool!
Midnight winemaking on Tuesday night
Ben and SouthEnd siegerrebe
SouthEnd Petit Milo (over 1000lb in this tote!
What Miwa does while we are working
We love our new crushpad! Thanks J Toelle Construction for coming to pour it!