The second crop of Pinot Noir fruit is hanging ripe and heavy on the vines at Gantz Family Vineyards and last weekend, we were able to share the excitement of harvesting a portion of it with our nephew, Nick, and his lovely wife, Jeny.
Generally, the second crop gets no respect. It’s smaller than the first crop, it grows from lateral vines branching off from the primary shoot rather than growing from the primary shoot like first crop grapes, and it ripens long after the first crop. Most winemakers won’t go to the trouble of harvesting it: our grape buyer, Kosta Browne Winery, only wanted our first crop, and it wasn’t worth the time and expense for us to harvest it for the wine we share with friends and family. (Gantz Family Vineyards currently does not sell its wine.)
But inspired by the movie that we watched the night before – “Harvest,” about the challenging 2011 rain-drenched harvest in Sonoma County – Nick and his newly pregnant wife, Jeny, wanted to embrace the romance of gathering fruit from the vine.
Their plan was simple: go out and experience the extravagance of snipping a whole cluster from the vine and eating the ripe berries. These are Russian River Valley Pinot Noir grapes; not a bad snack. That evolved to them grabbing a small bucket, to take “just a few” home to share with their parents. The more we moved down the rows, the bigger the clusters became. Nick and Jeny found it hard to leave them hanging. Clay fanned their wine country dreams as he explained the process of small-batch winemaking, and Nick and Jeny soon had a full pail. Nick and Clay had their heads together, discussing crushing, fermentation and pressing in an apartment setting.
Nick and Jeny left with 50 pounds of fruit, and our second crop grapes got their shot at becoming a glass of wine.