Saturday morning arrived with mild regrets for a missed opportunity to photograph some of those very fast grape harvest workers. We are, however, excited for the opportunity of a ride to Fidelitas in D&V’s red, convertible, 1950 Willy’s Jeepster, and hungry for whatever Chef Andrae has in store for us for lunch.
Goose Ridge winery. On a whim D pulls onto the road leading to a processing area close to the pad where semi-trucks were dropping their load of grapes for processing in the press. Dad Monson was headed the opposite direction and was so struck by the Jeepster that he had to stop his pickup and startup a conversation with D on the various memories from the past he had of a vehicle very similar to the Jeepster. Most guys always have car stories to share with anyone with an ear to listen. Even someone like Dad Monson is not invulnerable to the seemingly primordial male trait. During a lull in the conversation V inquires, “Do you give tours?”
His reply was “Certainly! I’ll go get Brandon our assistant winemaker.” He put his truck into reverse, pointed to an area for D to park the shiny red open air car we are in, and proceeded to talk to Brandon. It seems no one can say “No” to V, not even someone like Dad Monson.
As we watch a semi dump its load into the chuteBrandon explains the newly acquired press can handle two full semi loads of grapes where the older press could only handle one. My finely honed math skills told me that meant a total of three full semi-trucks can be processed at once. Amazing. I am talking about the volume of grapes, not my math skills.
Brandon pulls one of the clusters out of the hopper and lets everyone have a sample.These are sweet, no acid, and are truly meant for their purpose of a fruit forward wine. Anyone could put that “as is and unfermented” into a bottle with a label, “All Natural – No Sugar Added” and sell it. As we are sampling the grapes, Brandon explains they are custom pressing this machine picked Chardonnay from a Horse Heaven Hills vineyard for a large in-state winery that needed some help.
This is truly a volume oriented enterprise on a scale the likes of which we haven’t seen since our tour this spring of the Merryvale winery in Napa.
Somehow or other the conversation takes a turn to the orchards we have driven through up here in Goose Gap and Brandon informs us that summer Fuji apples are currently being harvested. As if by some mystic power an apple shows up, and as I take a bite into it, I hear the crunch and snap of a perfectly ripe apple and a rivulet of juice runs down my arm. Ever the adept-with-words-one I look around to everyone gathered in our tour circle and solemnly say as straight-faced as I can, “Summer Fuji apples and summer other types. Right?” Then bust a grin as others bust a groan. I am still waiting for the little snare drum sound that accompanies the punch line of the clever turn of a phrase.
Brandon guides us by the holding tanks explaining the large pumps in the walk-wayand the great volume they can handle then we go inside the lab where we meet the lab ladies, then to the bottling area where a custom order of 2012 For A Song Syrah is getting bottled. The sight of pink boots and For a Song wine in that close proximity pushed the “Play Button” for the soundtrack in my head and “Get On Your Boots” just like that is being thunderously performed by U2.
We are introduced to “The guy that makes things happen in here.” With a firm grasp of the obvious I look at Brandon then “The guy that makes things happen in here” and say, “Everyone needs “The guy that makes things happen in here.”” and he nods in grateful appreciation.
All through the tour I am watching Brandon’s facial expressions, his body language, listening to how he phrases the description of this year’s harvest. He is excited for this year, as are Charlie Hoppes and Mitch; as are Rob Griffin, Megan, and Mickey; as is Damon La Londe; as is Trey Busch, as is Dick Boushey, as is Robert O. Smasne, and those are just the ones we know. It is incredible to witness firsthand their passion and love for what they do, and then skillfully evidenced into the end product which we are blessed indeed to enjoy.
At this point in the tour the dichotomy of my life which surfaced last week at Sleight-Of-Hand Cellars all of a sudden is resurrected and the need to say something clever to get over the shadow of self-introspection is overwhelming. Nothing comes, I remain silent, and move along the walk with the others.
The tour is over, we’ve said our good byes, shaken hands with Sunnyside native Brandon and piled into the gleaming red convertible Jeepster once again and head over to the tasting room over on Dallas Road. Once there we notice several capital improvements here too since the last time we visited. The grounds have evolved into picnic areas with a stunning view, stone fireplace, tables and benches, a separate stone grill. Bocce Ball courts have been added too. Inside we taste through the days offerings and make our purchases.
On the way home the Jeepster’s 350 cubic inch engine and throaty tuned exhaust is roaring. The Jeepster is a “resto-mod” and is not just a pretty face; it has “the go” to match “the show.” On the way home my face is a bit warm and I say to myself, “I bet I am getting sun and wind burned. I’ll double down on the wager to add V&I will both rue not bringing along sunscreen this day.”
Twenty minutes later, still full from Chef Andre’s lunch offering, and I might add, the dessert of the perfectly ripe Summer Fuji apple, we climb out of the convertible and walk into the house. The dog is ecstatic that his humans are back, and he has the opportunity to be outside to sun worship. He is lucky that one, he has humans to tell him to come in out of the sun. V&I, on the other hand, have to deal with raccoon eyes for the better part of a week. Well maybe just I have to deal with that, V seems to use some product called “cover-up” or “foundation” or some other girlie item that I don’t remember the name of.
Until Sunday then…