It’s Harvest 2014 in the Okanagan
It’s autumn on the Naramata Bench, and we are in the throes of the 2014 Harvest!
We picked our first grapes on September 19th, and since then there has been constant activity at Bench 1775: containers of grapes being filled in the vineyards and delivered to the winery, grape crushing on the aptly named crush pad, fermentations are started & checked daily, and the whole time, the team has its eye on the weather, which can determine when the grapes will be ready and whether we can even pick (ie no picking when it rains, it dilutes the grape juice!).
Winemaker and General Manager Val Tait directs and supervises the activity, and visits the vineyards daily to taste individual grapes as they ripen, and to take samples of grapes from different areas throughout the vineyard.
Val returns grape samples to the winery, where Sonja, who assists her in the lab work so necessary to winemaking, crushes the berries and analyzes the resulting juice for sugars and acids. Between tasting the berries, and examining the numbers that come from the lab, Val decides when the grapes get harvested.
Bench 1775 grapes are hand-harvested, each cluster cut carefully off the vine, and the grapes are returned to the winery.
“I’m super excited about the quality of the fruit that’s coming in,” says Val. “The first picks of our sauvignon blanc have come in, the more grassy, bright components of the sauv blanc blend. The Gewurztraminer has come in, and the first of our Chardonnay, for our new Chardonnay program. Stay tuned for that!”
Once they are delivered to the winery, the grapes go immediately into the crusher de-stemmer, which removes the grape berries from the stems and gently crushes the grapes, producing the juice that will one day be a Bench 1775 wine! Sonja and the other members of the winery team check on the fermentations daily to ensure the yeasts are doing their job exactly as they’re supposed to!
“So far, we have two finished wines,” says Val, “And three more that are almost finished and they are fabulous! I’m very excited about the wines as they’re completing, and I think they have even better potential than last year, but there’s a lot that can happen between now and harvest!”
This is Val’s 23rd vintage. “Some years are way more stressful than others,” she says. “This one I’m sleeping a little bit better.”
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