We rose at five the next morning to pick Kenny’s Zin. As I emerged from the guest room I was greeted with a large mug of coffee and pressing questions about how much beer I thought we would need when we finished picking. Unable to think with perfect clarity at that hour, we all agreed to err on the side of “more is better.” Amply plied with caffeine and with our beer in tow, we departed a few minutes before 6, giddy with excitement about what was to come.
Kenny’s motley picking crew was comprised of a couple trusted winery employees, a friend’s cousin, a high school comrade and yours truly. We all caravanned to the Zin vineyard, a gorgeous spot with sweeping views located at 2,000 feet above the Alexander Valley. True to the theme of the week, it was gray and cold when we arrived around 6:30AM.
Fortunately, I’d worn many layers.
Two hours and several shod layers later (note to self: it gets warm when picking!), we toasted the splendid arrival of the sun (finally!) with cold beers and a deep sense of satisfaction. We’d brought in four tons of fruit in great time, and no one had lost a finger to picking shears or been stung by one of the many hornets that love to hang out in the Zin fruit.
With the sun on its way up, we headed back to the winery to sort, de-stem and crush Kenny’s fruit. The ’07 harvest was officially underway, belated and cold though it was, and Kenny hinted that it might even be a very good year. The vines had produced less fruit than usual, but the quality of what they had made seemed very good. And the cool spells, although worrisome, had led winemakers to leave their fruit on the vine longer than usual, which can spell good things for overall ripeness and the finished product.
As the sun coursed higher in the sky, I had to admit that I was crushing on wine country in a major way – perhaps even at the same magnitude as an all-powerful adolescent crush. And that’s when I remembered the best thing about crushes: Looking forward to the next time you run into the object of your affection.
If the next time I meet the ’07 Sonoma harvest is in my glass, it’ll be well worth the wait.