Diary of a Crush: Part 1

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By Courtney Cochran

f I’d kept a diary as a teen, it surely would have chronicled many a crush. After all, the anthem of adolescence is, without a doubt, unrequited love.

But, given my current profession (and age, I must grudgingly add), crushing has everything to do with wine, and little to do with romance. Unless, of course, you believe the general splendor of wine country nets it a spot in the romance category, in which case you might make an argument that this diary chronicles an adult crush of a very serious nature.

However you see it, read on for the story of an exciting adventure in crushing.

Day 1 – Thursday, Sept 20

Glancing out at the gray sky and low clouds hanging ominously over the Alexander Valley, my friend Kenny said wryly, “I really like this weather. If I didn’t have 60 tons of fruit hanging on the vine, I’d like it even more.”

So went the theme of this year’s harvest, which was marked by protracted cool spells that led winemakers like Kenny Likitprakong to leave their fruit on the vine far longer than was comfortable. Looking at the grapes languishing on the vines under the gray sky, I found it hard to fathom how they’d ripen enough to pick any time soon. With the threat of rot-inducing rain very real, the situation was dicey indeed.

I’d come to Sonoma for a few days to “shadow” Kenny and take part in the harvest, or crush, as the locals refer to it. I was most excited about going picking, but so far all we’d done was drive around in Kenny’s weathered Subaru Forrester and check to see if any of the fruit in his vineyards was ready to pick.

So far, no dice.

Kenny tossed some grape samples from the Alexander Valley vineyard into a cooler, and we headed back to the winery to test them for sugar and acidity levels. Maybe, just maybe, the numbers would tell us we could pick on Saturday. I crossed my fingers and zipped up my wool vest. It was cold.

Stay tuned for Day 2 of my crush experience…


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