It’s autumn and time for the crush in California’s wine country. With visions of Lucy stomping grapes in a vat, we visited Buena Vista Winery, the oldest premium winery in the region, for a crush brunch.
The approach to the winery is a walk through history. Having visited Scandinavia recently, we weren’t quite sure why Leif Ericsson showed up at a winery in California. It turns out he discovered VINland, the wine land of North America.
Actually the brunch was mostly an excuse to sample some of Buena Vista’s delicious wines, starting with sparkling brut rose and mimosas.
We stayed sober enough to learn a bit about the process. The winemaker explained that the grape harvest this year is yummy, very little fire and smoke in the region to threaten flavor, and perfect weather in recent weeks to aid the ripening.
As a hands-on activity, the staff had brought bins of grapes to be sorted and separated on the shaking machine. First is a horizontal conveyor and shaker with workers removing defective grapes by hand. Michael and Stephen got into this.
Next the bunches of grapes get a ride up a conveyor to the automated separator, which removes grapes from stems and leaves, resulting in a bin of “mostly grapes.”
Interestingly, the separated stem material still seemed to have a substantial number of grapes attached. The winemaker explained that this was a feature, not a failure, of the equipment. Closer inspection revealed that many of the retained grapes were well on their way to raisin status. These wizened grapes had some defect while growing and they clung to the vine much more strongly than the good grapes, which dropped off the stems quite easily.
The “good grapes” are then dumped in large vats to age for up to 30 days before they are further processed.
The wine is held in barrels until it is ready for bottling.
Besides its functionality as a center for winemaking, Buena Vista is a nice spot for events. Perhaps an engagement…
Followed by a wedding dinner.
A wedding amid all these cutting tools could be very romantic, right?
For an extra fee you can get engaged in the Bubble Lounge.
We had the opportunity to sample a 2020 red wine from the barrel. Exquisite!
With that, a final toast to say good-bye until next fall…
a Stephen selfie to remember the day…
and a few bottles of Buena Vista Winery’s great reds to add to Kathy’s cellar.
Goodbye from Buena Vista!