Monday, July 02, 2007

Days of Wine & Roses... and Planning. Part One in a series about preparing for the harvest.

  • Hard to believe but our neighbours to the south (California, Texas, other warm climate regions) will be picking grapes for wine sometime next month.
    Here in the north we're not quite that rushed. But by mid-September some early varieties and those destinied for sparkling wine will be starting to come off and make their way to the crush pad.
    If you're a BC winery owner or operator, your vintage plan should be shaped-up by now. You should know where your grapes are coming from, how many tons you can expect, what yeasts and other fermentation aids you'll be using and who will be on your pad this fall. Needless to say, coopers in various parts of the world are putting the finishing touches on your barrels before packing them in containers for the long trip to BC.

    Of course, in the real world, things don't line up quite so neatly.

    A quick message to consumers and other members of the public: The wine makers of the province are trying to enjoy the summer days in a leisurely fashion but it's not all a bucolic paradise of long hours by the water's edge. There's lots of planning to do.

Best to start by having a pre-vintage meeting with your crew. Hopefully some of them were around the previous year and remember what went right and what turned out wrong. From this brainstorming session you can make adjustments as required. Everything from the way fruit is accepted at the winery to how the equipment can be better delegated can be included. This is also an excellent time to address any glaring repair jobs that somehow missed out getting done during the winter and spring.

From your meeting you can begin a list and prioritize as you go. Using as fresh eyes as possible, walk around your production area and note additional items that will require attention.

Think back to the blur that was the last vintage. Where were the bottlenecks? What didn't make it onto the paperwork train? How can you make things faster, safer and better?

Your employees will tell you what is needed. If they can't do it, bring in another winemaker friend that you trust (like me) for a beer and yak about what works for them. A fresh perspective sometimes solves a problem in minutes that kept you perplexed for weeks.

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