Making Wine with Sam


grape vinyard of merlo and cabernet savignon in Saratoga, California

What a day. The grapes were ready and we had to pick. Estimated to be 24% sugar, you can't wait. So, 9am Saturday, we were in the field, clippers and baskets in hand. We were ready to make wine. What a time we had on Alexander Hill.

woman next to a row of grapes with garden shears woman under a row of grape vines with shears and a basket
Jen and Susan were over from England so we brought them along as our imported labor. They worked hard and earned their keep!


man cutting grapes off the vine in Saratoga, California two children holding a basket of grapes in a vineyard

And of course I worked like a dog.

While the kids held their own.


owner of the vineyard clipping off a bunch of grapes

Now, we know that Sam loves his family. But when it comes to his grapes... that look says it all.


basket of mixed cabernet savignon and merlot grapes group of people standing in front of tubs of newly harvested wine grapes
Baskets and baskets of hand picked Merlot and Cabernet. The grapes themselves were very different. The Merlot bunches were loose while the Cabernet bunches were tight and plump. Both had been under water stress for the last two weeks. The Merlot grapes had a nice taste, but the Cab grapes were really sweet and full bodied. Ummm. So here's what it all comes down to: big buckets of grapes. By 11:30 we were ready to crush.


man dumping a basket of wine grapes into a Zambelli destemmer/crusher

spiral conveyer that crushes and destems wine grapes

You can see how the screw feed takes the grapes to one end where they are fed into two white plastic mushers. They bruise the grapes open, but they don't break the seeds.

Last year the crush was done by hand - or feet. This year a neighbor loaned the Zambelli machine. What a wonder. It hummed and as we fed it grapes it made the most enjoyable wet munching sound.  


the crushed grapes falling out of the bottom of the Zambelli

two men moving a 50 gallon drum of wine crush into the fallout shelter in Saratoga California

The output of the entire field is seen here. This is the second half garbage can of crush we got. The stems are on the left. The crusher does a really good job of removing the chaff. And then the crush goes into the bomb shelter. Build during the cold war it is now cold enough to hold the crush.


winemaker in a fallout shelter

bottles of wine fermenting

In the cellar Sam stands ready to create the nectar of the Gods.

This is vintage 2001, ready for the bottles.