“You won’t find grapes like these at Whole Foods.”
Raul Mesias was right about that. The Director of Barrel Sales at City Winery New York greeted attendees at last week’s Crush event by gleefully showing off bunches of deep-blue Syrah grapes freshly delivered from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino, Calif.
The grapes had been picked only a few days earlier and then trucked cross-country to the unlikely destination of Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. There, under the watchful eye of Chief Wine Maker David Lecomte and his team, they will become wine.
A few lucky guests got to see the first step in that process, as more than a ton of grapes were destemmed and prepared for primary fermentation. Here is a step-by-step look at how it all went down.
Each crate holds about 20 pounds of grapes. The grapes are picked in the middle of night while they are at their coldest and then shipped in a refrigerated truck.
Bunches of grapes are loaded into the destemming machine – affectionately known as The Giraffe.
Up, up and away….
…And out they come. The destemmed grapes are given a closer inspection so that leftover stems and leaves can be picked out. Occasionally the winemakers mix in a crate of green Viognier grapes to give the resulting wine more complexity.
Individual grapes are sent up a second conveyor belt…
…And here they are collected while they wait to be loaded into a tank to ferment before being moved into oak barrels for aging.
Having sampled the 2012 Syrah, I can safely say it will be well worth the wait for the 2014 vintage.
To learn more about City Winery New York — including its winemaking, restaurant and concert facilities — check out their web site.