Pavle Milic Harvests the Grapes for His Still Unnamed Wine
In this occasional series, Pavle Milic (co-owner of FnB, Baratin, Bodega and AZ Wine Merchants in Scottsdale) will spill about his current mission to learn how wine is made -- literally from the Southern Arizona ground up. Today: the harvest.
Momentary Suspension of Reality
I have made the drive to Elgin's Dos Cabezas WineWorks many times, but this time -- at dawn on a mid-September day -- I feel an extra sense of ease as I exit onto State Route 83 from the I-10. Perhaps it's the majestic panorama that elicits a mood shift or the fact that I'm getting farther away from all things urban and going toward beautiful rural Arizona. It also helps that I'm listening to Baltimore's Beach House's latest album: "Bloom."
Or maybe it's the fact that it's finally time for the harvest.
Time to clean the press before the grapes arrive.
At the Winery
Normally Dos Cabezas winemaker Todd Bostock will be at the winery around 7 am to get ready for the arrival of the grapes from the Cimarron Vineyard in Willcox. While waiting for the grapes, Todd and Kelly (his wife and assistant winemaker) get ready for Crush.
(I try to get there earlier so that I can sneak in a run. For those of you who like to run, Elgin is beautiful in the morning -- just a few days ago it was in the upper sixties. The landscape is so expansive it feels like anything is possible.)
Upon coming back I check that I have all the things I need for the day: sunscreen, hat that covers the neck, rubber boots, change of clothes, water and maybe a few items pilfered from the Bodega to snack on for lunch.
Winemaking really involves a plethora of details. In this regard it is redolent of the restaurant business. The following are just a mere fraction of all the things involved in this industry:
Upon arrival I ask Todd what he needs me to do. "Do you want to clean the press" Todd asks, and really the only answer that exists is "Of course." The press is a cylindrical structure that has a membrane inside that inflates and delicately squeezes the grapes. It has a small door. Basically I climb in and clean it. The inflatable membrane has some creases so I have to make sure that there was no residue from the last batch pressed.
Warning: If you suffer from any degree of claustrophobia, do not clean the press. And, if you don't like physical work, don't get into the wine making business.