Category Archives: Vintage
Harvesting with Damijan Podversic
The Vintage Experience
|Picking grapes in the Rheinhessen|
Vintage 2012 – Weeks Eight & Nine
My final two weeks of vintage were for the most part uneventful as the harvest concluded and the vast majority of work was cleaning and checking the fermenting tanks. I was very generously taken out for dinner and lunch by the domestic sales manager and the owner respectively, and on both instances got to eat some lovely German food. There were a couple of dinners to celebrate the end of vintage; first with the Romanian vineyard workers and then the cellar team who are all locals. The winery also welcomed a journalist and they opened some bottles going back to 1983, all of which I had the chance to taste as well.
|Bernd working hard pressing botrytised fruit to get juice with high sugar content.|
|Niklas compacting grape marc for future distillation to make schnapps.|
|Range of wines tasted going back to 1983.|
|Freshly and heavily hand-pruned vines in the Scharzofberg vineyard.|
|Old shoots clinging to the trellis wire. Always reminds me of snakes.|
|Just so you know who owns this vineyard.|
|This is Alexandra, one of the Romanian friends I made in the vineyards.|
|Walking up those steep slopes pruning requires a rest break.|
Vintage 2012 – Week Seven
Week two at Kesselstatt was mostly the same as the first. The fruit coming in is of a very high quality, but unfortunately it is in quite small quantities. With the very cool and wet weather we have been having the ripeness is not as high as Wolfgang would like, but they are very healthy bunches with little rot. It is nice to get into a routine of checking the ferments followed by transferring filtered juice into fermentation tanks each day, but it can also be a little dull doing the same thing every day. Such is the beauty and the curse of working exclusively with white wine, as they require much less work than reds. Some of the days have been a bit shorter with much less work to do in the winery as a by-product of lower volumes but healthy fruit. Thursday was a holiday in Germany and Wolfgang was nice enough to take the team to a local restaurant for some hearty schnitzels.
|Gorgeously ripe berries in the vineyards opposite Schloss Marienlay, covered in morning condensation.|
|Schloss Marienlay, the headquarters of Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt.|
|The Piesporter vineyards in the heart of the Mosel Valley.|
|The famous blue slate soils of the Mosel.|
Vintage 2012 – Week Six
Here I am in the Mosel region, based in the Ruwer Valley just outside of Waldrach. I’ve now been working at Kesselstatt for about ten days and it has been great so far. Almost all of the fruit has now been picked from their numerous vineyards, and every day I get to check the progress of the tanks fermenting. The winemaker Wolfgang Mertes (who has also generously provided me with a great room whilst I am here) prefers spontaneous fermentations, some of which take a week to start. Before they start fermenting the rieslings can have a character of sweet tea to them, which is quite unique and delicious. Some of the weisburgunder tanks are fermenting really slowly but show great character because of it. It has been getting colder, sometimes raining and even a bit of snow. I picked grapes my first day and also had the chance to visit some of the other vineyards.
|Vineyards overlooking Trier, the town where the Ruwer and Saar valleys join the Mosel valley.|
|Where I am staying in the Mosel.|
|The vineyards above Kasel the first day of work, beautiful day and actually got a bit warm in the afternoon.|
|The Saar vineyard of Scharzofberg.|
|Bins of fruit freshly delivered to the winery.|
|The bins are lifted off the ground or off the back of trucks.|
|They are then emptied into the destemmer and the berries are pumped up to the hoppers.|
|Berries are free run juice go into the hoppers.|
|The hoppers are then emptied into one of the presses below.|
|The pressed juice gets transferred to tanks for settling overnight and racking off sediment the following morning.|
|Flotation filtering is used to separate additional solids in the juice before it goes into fermentation tanks. Here we can check to see when the clear juice becomes sediment.|
|Tanks must be cleaned thoroughly. This is Simon.|
Vintage 2012 – Transition
Many apologies for the delay in posting, but as the title suggests I have moved from the Rheinhessen to the Mosel, where I am completing my vintage experience at Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt. Kesselstatt is one of the most important producers in the Mosel, owning 50 hectares of vineyards in the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer valleys. Unfortunately I have had limited access to the internet, and thus it has been very difficult to post on the blog. Here are the remaining photos from my time at Gunderloch, and future posts will be catching up from the first week or two at Kesselstatt.
|Quite a beautiful sight in the vineyards.|
|Spectacular view of the varying levels of leaf colour change.|
|Paul Dietz from Sydney, who took over from me at Gunderloch, taking a sample from the tank the hard way.|
|The baby about to start fermenting.|
|Paul and I sharing a beer at Oktoberfest in Mainz. I have since lost the beard.|
Vintage 2012 – Day Twenty-Three
The amphora project continued today, with some more foot stomping and then pressing the juice to rack overnight before being put into the amphora tomorrow. I also used the new markings that I worked on to measure the volume of all the tanks that have wine in them at Nierstein.
|Gorgeous view, with leaves changing colour all around.|
|Lot’s of free run juice from the foot crushing.|
|Johannes is very happy that his plan is working. He is pressing the grapes for more juice.|
|An in situ setup in the vineyards where the amphora will live for the next few weeks as the wine ferments.|
Vintage 2012 – Day Twenty-Two
I managed to lose another day thanks to my back problems, and then worked two half days with reduced duties that wouldn’t make my back worse again. Day 20 Johannes was in Oslo for one of the most inappropriately timed tastings imaginable, right in the middle of vintage. On the following day I was doing a fair amount of observing and not a lot of working, but on Day 22 I got to do something really interesting. Stomping grapes! Riesling grapes!! Stomping grapes is what several members of my family think I’m actually doing by working vintage. I never thought I’d be doing it with white grapes though. The fruit was from one of the Rotenberg vineyards and will go into the amphora in a few days for fermentation. It made for cold and sticky legs but some amazing and hilarious photos as I hope you agree.
|Johannes prepares the yeast, mixing in a little juice from the tank to be inoculated.|
|Johannes adds the yeasts to begin fermenting a barrel of grauburgunder.|
|Adding some dry ice (CO2) to protect the foot-crushed grapes.|
Vintage 2012 – Day Nineteen
Just when I thought my back was on the mend it decided it wasn’t. It might have been exacerbated by working for two days and being on my feet, with the occasional lifting pushing or bending. By the end of my nineteenth day I was starting to get very stiff and had difficulty moving like before. Now I’m even worse and have resigned myself to see a doctor tomorrow. The few things I got to do before I called it quits for the day was draining the tank of silvaner that had started to ferment on skins, picking some riesling to be pressed and used to start wild ferments, plunge some spatburgunder and continue correcting tank markings.
|Perfect time to begin harvesting.|
|Draining a tank the old fashioned way; gravity.|
|Johannes plunging the cap on a vat of schwarz riesling.|