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Robert Louis Stevenson once said: “wine is bottled poetry.”
This makes me wonder if he or any other that has romanticized about the drinking of wine, had taken the “bottled” part into consideration when doing so. What was the wine before it was bottled? I think a better way to compare the two would be to say: wine is to the bottle as poetry is to the cover of the book. Making a wine or writing a poem is one thing, but managing it into a product that can be released, or for this matter published, can be a stressful and tedious process. Make no mistake, I agree with the author of ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.’ I just look at it a little different. Wine is indeed poetry, delivered to the people in a bottle.
So after a few delays we set off to finish 1850 cases in a single day. The 9th of December dawned on us with all its glory, the first time estate produced Presquile wine would be bottled on a bottling line. Essentially bottling is divided into two sections. The first part is to fill and cork the bottle; this determines quality more than anything and went extremely well for us this year. The second part is to label and capsule the bottle, all aesthetics orientated. It is here that we found the always-expected delays throughout the day. Our capsule spinner stopped spinning every few hours and the temperature fluctuation outside provided some condensation on the bottles, which hindered labeling during the middle stages of this long day. A little elbow grease solved the problems as always.
Whether you hand-bottle or use a bottling line, this is the point where all the work and financial investment comes together. Even though it’s very pleasing to see the wine reach its end point, I doubt any of us at team Presquile really had the time to stop and appreciate it until the day was completely done. At around 10pm we shut it down, aching bodies appreciated the silence and marveled at the little mountain of case goods we created. Very satisfied and almost to tired to see through the eerie mist that had settled in, we went to go grab some well deserved sleep.
As for which aspect of wine production actually contributes the most or least to the pleasure of consuming it remains a personal opinion, but a bottle brings it together, it provides all the memories with an identity. I agree, liquid poetry is best when poured out of a bottle
I would like to thank everybody that helped us make this day a reality.
Keep on Bottling
Hailing from the South, our family food traditions tend toward Cajun and Creole, crustations and bivalves. We often have fresh live oysters at the holidays.
6 oysters on the half shell per person
2 cloves of finely minced garlic or to taste (or smash the cloves to lightly flavor the sauce)
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
A tiny splash of Worcestershire sauce (this is very important- a tiny splash!)
Salt to taste
Finely minced parsley for garnish
Presqu’ile Sauvignon Blanc
Shucking made easy: Place the whole oyster shell on the grill and close the lid of the grill for a minute or two. Shuck when the oysters are slightly opened.
Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat. When pan is hot add the butter and finely minced garlic and cook for one minute or until fragrant. Open your bottle of Presqu'ile Sauvignon Blanc and add a splash to the pan. Drink the rest while you grill and to accompany your finished oysters (we often require a few bottles). Add the lemon juice and the salt and remove pan from heat.
Place the oysters in a pan over a bed of rock salt or rice (this is to keep the oysters steady while grilling) place the pan on a grill of hot coals. Spoon butter sauce over each oyster, close the grill and cook until the oysters begin to curl. Make sure you have some good grilling gloves to protect your hands form the heat.
When we have loads of guests we forget the shells and make lots of butter sauce and put the oysters in the sauce pan on the grill. This is fast and the oysters get the nice grilled flavor. Poach until plump.
While many of our Napa and Sonoma counterparts were dealing with one of the most challenging vintages in recent memory, conditions in the Santa Maria Valley were absolutely superb for our Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
The core of the growing season had a slow, easy, European feel to it. The month of May brought an even set and well-balanced crop, followed by a persistent marine layer. Temperatures were below average through September, giving the fruit lots of time to develop its inherent flavor.
Like clockwork, a California heat spike hit in late September, only to be abruptly reversed by very confused storm systems.
Between the heat and rain, we had ten manic days to harvest all our Pinot noir and Chardonnay. Our Pinot harvest began Sept. 17*. Serious sleep deprivation and gallons of coffee got us through the next eight days and on Sept. 25 we crushed the last of our Pinot noir (and indulged in a few ice-cold beers).
Traditional gap between the Pinot and Chardonnay harvests be damned: On Sept. 25 the small yellow-green berries were ripe, clean and ready to go. We got all the Chardonnay in within three days.
Gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc from two vineyards was harvested Sept. 24-27 - relatively early, which means intoxicating aromas of gooseberry and grass.
Amazingly, in spite of the crazy weather, our fruit could not have been in more perfect condition. Our 2010 wines should be exceptional.
*Technically, our first Pinot noir was harvested Aug. 26, but that was strictly for an experiment you’ll hear more at a later date. And while we’re at it, stay tuned for more on a potential silver (moldy) lining to those unusual rainstorms.