It is the time of year that grapes are harvested and turned into wine! On Friday, I was able to help Mazzaroth Vineyard pick, press and process their 2016 Vidal Blanc.
About Mazzaroth Vineyard
Mazzaroth Vineyard is in the beautiful valley of Middletown, Maryland. It has spectacular views from their patio that overlooks the vineyard. Mazzaroth is family operated by Micki and Garry Cohen. Garry started out as a hobbyist, making wine from kits. His once hobby has now grown to a full-time passion of over an acre of grapes and a licensed winery to sell the spectacular wines he produces. The vineyard is still very young, and the 2016 harvest will be its second.
Mazzaroth is a boutique winery. They plan to expand their acre of grapes to an acre and a half next year. Four varietals of wine are currently planted and being produced from the vineyard. The varietals are Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vidal Blanc, and Albarino. With the expansion of vines next year, they will be adding Cabernet Franc.
The vineyard is glyphosate-free and is producing beautiful fruit. The Cohen family believes that having the cover crop under the vines, which would not exist if they used glyphosate, will help moderate soil temperatures and produce better fruit. I saw the fruit and tasted the wine, and I have to say that this method is producing quality grapes!
The Harvest Process
At the winery everything is done by hand. We started out in the vineyard at 7:30 in the morning to harvest the grapes. We began in the first row of Vidal Blanc and clipped each grape cluster one by one and added them to the lugs. It took about two hours for us to work through all four rows of the Vidal Blanc. Once we had clipped all the grapes, we loaded up the lugs on the tractor, and took them up to the crushing pad. Up at the crushing pad we unloaded all 14 very full lugs.
The crushing Process
When we had the lugs unloaded we set up the de-stemmer and the bladder press. For 14 lugs of grapes it was more time and user-friendly to use the crank-by-hand de-stemmer. Each lug of grapes was dumped into the de-stemmer and cranked through. When the bucket was full of freshly de-stemmed grapes we then transferred them to the bladder press. As the grapes go into the bladder press, the juice begins to squeeze out of them. Once the bladder press was filled with grapes, the bladder portion of the press was filled with water to continue to squeeze out juice. When we finished extracting the juice from the grapes, it was time to move into the winery to begin the fermentation process.
The Fermentation Process
After pressing the grapes to extract the juice it is now time to turn the grape juice into wine! Once in the winery we strained the grape juice to get out any grapes that may have gotten through. When the juice was strained, we then poured it into carboys so it could begin fermenting. We added in the yeast, put on the air lock and left it to do its work.
I had a wonderful time helping the Cohen family at Mazzaroth Vineyard with their 2016 Vidal Blanc. It was a great learning experience to go through the winemaking process. Harvest season is a great time to reach out to your local winery and lend a hand if you are interested in learning more about the winemaking process and all the work that goes into it. Just do not be afraid to get dirty! 🙂