Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 

Editor's Letter

 

Pulling Their Weight in Washington

November 2012
 
by Jim Gordon
 
 
The fire-engine red, four-wheel drive Ford F350 diesel pickup was pulling a trailer loaded with empty MacroBins and drawing unwanted attention on the otherwise quiet streets of Walla Walla, Wash. Unwanted, particularly since we were passing through a school zone guarded by a police officer leaning out the window of his cruiser with a radar gun.

The winemaker who was driving anticipated the cop being there, so he idled the truck past the school at 19 mph. Even so, the clatter from the underworked diesel seemed loud enough to get us arrested with a noise ordinance infraction. The patrolman let us pass, though, and soon we were clanking our way out of town.

It was mid-September, and our first task was to drop the bins at three different vineyards where the winemaker was buying fruit. Then came the real heavy lifting of the day: picking up a cumbersome 30-plus year-old Wilmes press from Russell Creek Winery at the airport and delivering it to the Otis Kenyon winery just across the border in Oregon.

Lay of the land
I came to Walla Walla hoping to see the crush under way, but little was happening yet. In five days I saw no red wine fermentations and only a few whites being pressed, but I did get a better lay of the land than I’d had before.

One clear observation is how open and vast this portion of the Columbia River Valley really is. Even though Washington, with more than 40,000 acres of winegrapes, has the largest plantings in the U.S. outside California, they seemed trivial compared to the truly giant wheat, soybean and onion fields, orchards and pastures, which were all in turn overshadowed by the seemingly endless prairie land all around.

One day winemaker David Stephenson of Otis Kenyon and Stephenson Cellars drove me from the Washington Tri Cities of Pasco, Richland and Kennewick out to see vineyards in Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills, the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, Yakima Valley, Milton-Freewater, Ore., and then to Walla Walla.

From a distance Red Mountain looks more like a small ridge, and not nearly as dramatic as its reputation for high-quality red wines. The Horse Heaven Hills stand strikingly higher, broader and less densely planted than Red Mountain. It was a surprise suddenly to see acres of white grow tubes marking the new plantings at sloping Champoux Vineyards after driving through nothing but wheat stubble and tumbleweeds for 45 miles. We also visited the Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards of Sagemoor Farms, hugging the gravelly banks of the Hanford Reach where Cabernet Sauvignon vines date to 1972.

Forklift finesse
Another day I got in the way of winemaker Andrew Latta and his assistant Mark Fiore of Charles Smith Wines as they sprinted to sanitize the newly acquired former Whitman Cellars, where they were expecting Chardonnay to come in the next morning. I dodged forklifts at Artifex and tasted new releases in the spacious hospitality area of the newish Waterbrook Winery. At Long Shadows, winemaker Gilles Nicault showed me around the gleaming winery and tasted me through an amazing set of wines made by founder Allen Shoup’s international winemaking partners.

Back to the Ford diesel
Once we had dropped the bins, we drove to Russell Creek Winery to pick up the press. There, owner Larry Krivoshein showed his skill with the forklift. There was no way to grab the press directly with the forks, so Larry ordered us to fetch a weathered 4 x 6 beam about
8 feet long and place it across the forks. He maneuvered this above the press. Then he and Dave secured the two by stretching straps under the press and up and over the beam.

Larry raised it confidently while I ducked from what I expected to come flying when the wood snapped under 3,000 pounds of strain. But he calmly lifted the load without incident and deposited it gently on the flatbed trailer. Piece of cake.

On the drive over to Otis Kenyon, with a respectable load of steel to pull at last, the Ford’s engine stopped its clattering and purred like a kitten. That’s what I imagine must have happened in the region in general as the harvest really arrived about two weeks later: Everybody got busy pulling their weight—flexing the winemaking muscles they’d been saving all year.

 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
 
SEE OTHER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN ï¿½ CURRENT COLUMN ARTICLES »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $570 million
6%
$7,775 million
6%
October 2013 $539 million $7,342 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $284 million
18%
$1,751 million
13%
October 2013 $240 million $1,556 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 139
6%
226
18%
October 2013 131 192
     
 
MORE » Released on 11.13.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • November 24-25
     
    World Bulk Wine Exhibition
     
  • December 2-4
     
    Vinitech Sifel in Bordeaux
     
  • December 3
     
    Sustainable/Organic Wine Production Seminar
     
  • December 4
     
    North Coast Wine Industry Expo
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Kluge Saga Continues in Virginia »
 
Not everybody likes Pat Kluge, but she and Moses built a first class winery /...
Reader: Josh Moser
 
Article: Canada Adapts to Kegged Wines »
 
I am a wine agent in Manitoba & there certainly are kegs of cider here....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: What's Your Winery's IP Worth? »
 
If you would like more information on this seminar please visit The Seminar Group's website....
Reader: Danielle Bingham
 
Article: DtC Is Lifeblood of Wineries, Banker Says »
 
Seems like another locical option would be to have more small niche distrbutors. Consolidation of...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting Wine From PD-Resistant Grapes »
 
Congratulations Andy! Lots of grapebreeders and southern growers will be looking through the catalogs. i...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Retail Wine Specialist
 Parker, CO
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Sales Representative
 South Florida, FL
Sales and Marketing
 Landscaper
 Oakville, CA
General Administration and
 Maintenance Mechanic
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Senior Overheads Analy...
 Napa, CA
Finance
 Innovation/A&P Finance...
 Napa, CA
Finance
 Cellar Worker Level 2
 Sonoma, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Vineyard Manager
 Amity, OR
Vineyards
 Jde Programmer
 Tracy, CA
Winemaking and Production
 It Business Analyst - ...
 Tracy, CA
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.