2021 Harvest is Underway
August 5, 2021
When the first grape truck arrives at Rodney Strong one August morning each vintage, this vintage no different than the previous, everything changes. The truck is carrying about twenty tons of Pinot Noir destined to be part of our Russian River Rosé of Pinot Noir. Everyone at the winery that August morning stops what they’re doing wherever they are in the winery and heads to the crushpad. There’s a lovely ceremony that takes place at many wineries in the world, one that has been a tradition here for decades. We all assemble at the crushpad and toast the new harvest. Our Director of Winemaking Justin Seidenfeld will say a few words, we’ll all raise a glass of last year’s Rosé, chilled and ready for what is usually a warm August day, give thanks for the bountiful harvest, wish each other a safe, healthy and successful vintage, and watch as the truck unloads those first Pinot Noir clusters into the receiving bin. A bottle of last year’s Rosé is poured into the newly picked fruit for added good luck, the augur in the receiving bin begins to turn, and the Pinot Noir is lifted by conveyor belt into the bladder press. There are months of hard work ahead, thousands of tons of fruit yet to come, but we begin the vintage with a blessing and a joyful gathering.
Meanwhile, the Pinot Noir will be left in the bladder press for several hours to accumulate a bit of color (all the color in wine grapes is in the skins, the juice itself is clear, even in red grapes, so the color of a Rosé is determined by the length of time the juice is left in contact with the skins) and then is pressed off its skins and seeds and fermented at a very cool temperature in order to preserve the delicate aromatics that make our Rosé of Pinot Noir so appealing.
I cannot drink a glass of Rosé without remembering that gathering of the winery team and the passionate blessing of the grapes. The spirit of the team that makes the Rosé is in every sip. The memory makes the wine taste even lovelier.
Ron Washam, Sommelier/Wine Educator