The Calm Before the Storm
The mind of a cellar hand is constantly in motion. Although there are some tasks that require absolute concentration, there are also a great deal of tasks that simply require good work ethic and elbow grease. Whether it be throwing lugs, scrubbing those pesky tartrates off the inside of tanks, or simply maintaining and cleaning our cellar equipment, one is left with hours of deep and profitable thought. In fact, when my knee-high waterproof boots go on, my mind begins to race against its self. I ask myself the deepest questions in life. “What do I want to do with my life? How do I want to impact the world around me? What is it that provides happiness and fulfillment in peoples' lives? Where do I want to be in 20 years? Why did George Lucas sell out to Disney? If I could have one meal for the rest of my life, what would it be?” and so on. However, it's these important tasks that aid in our production of such quality wine.
As we approach harvest there is a great deal of prep work to be done. For a cellar hand, the name of the game is “Clean and Organize”. Once harvest hits there simply won't ever be enough hours in the day. That is why it is so important for us to prepare as much as we can now in the hopes that it will make the whole process easier and more efficient down the road. This starts with clearing out everything from the cellar that is not essential to the process of harvest. Once we have more space to maneuver the forklift, we organize and take stock of our empty barrels that will soon hold a new vintage of wine. This helps us to plan out what we believe to be the best barrels to use for the many different varieties of grapes that we grow.
Now, the real fun can begin. What most people don’t know is that a majority of cellar work is cleaning. The tanks, the equipment, the floors, and so on. Before we bring a single grape into the cellar we want to ensure that everthing is spotless and sanitized. Through a combination of power washing, squeegeeing, and a great deal of scrubbing we meet the rigged standards that we place upon ourselves. However, this process is not complete until one specific task is carried out. The cleaning of the drains. This ceremonial mission is considered a right of passage in the world of wine making. It’s what sorts out the strong from the weak, and the brave from the frightened. In the end, there is always a great deal of work and time that goes into every aspect of wine making. But it's all worth it to see the process of a grape traveling from a Virginia vine to a bottle. A final product that you can hold in your hand, share with others, and straight up appreciate the fruits of your labor.
About the Author - Jackson Cunningham joined the Sunset Hills team in August 2017. He is a great addition due to his work ethic, willingness to go with the flow, and sense of humor.