HJEM - first harvest

Some of our very dear friends live in Napa, and Napa means one thing: wine. About 3 years ago they planted a small hillside with rows of wine, to produce their own everyday wine: HJEM (which translated from danish means: HOME). Our family was lucky to get invited to participate in their first harvest this year, and together with other friends of the family, we started out early in the morning.

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Wine grapes are harvested at night or early in the morning before the sun rises. It results in better wine, and knowing that, we easily got up before the sun. Daytime temperatures change the sugar composition of the grapes, so by picking at lower temperatures, when sugar levels are stable keeps surprises from happening during fermentation.

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Picking grapes are hard work. We had a team of 11, some with more experience than others, honestly most of us were first-timers. It took about 2 hours to pick 503 pounds, just enough to make the 500 pounds mark. I’m not a numbers person so please forgive me for not remembering why this was such an important number.

After picking all the beautiful grapes, they had to be carried down to the crusher and weighing station.

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I might be the only one still thinking you jump into the big barrel with your bare feet, and crushes the grapes. It turnes out that goes a while back. Today you use a machine called a crusher. You pure the grapes into it’s big “mouth” and by hand you turn a handle. The crusher, of cause crushes the grapes, but it also removes the stems.

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With the crushing all done, the next step can begin. The fermentation of the grapes and the cleaning up. Here is what wikipedia says about fermentation of grapes: “During fermentation, yeasts transform sugars-present in the juice into ethanol and carbon dioxide (as a by-product). In winemaking, the temperature and speed of fermentation are important considerations as well as the levels of oxygen present in the must at the start of the fermentation. The risk of stuck fermentation and the development of several wine faults can also occur during this stage, which can last anywhere from 5 to 14 days for primary fermentation and potentially another 5 to 10 days for a secondary fermentation”.

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Thank you for letting me document, and be part of the first HJEM harvest. I look forward to tasting it in the future.

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A Taste Of Napa

This Saturday I had the opportunity to go to Napa for a small private event. We met at Oxbow Market in downtown Napa. Oxbow District of Napa has become the local gathering place for great food and wine in downtown Napa and throughout the Napa Valley. The goal is to create an atmosphere within the Oxbow Public Market to improve the local food culture through education, community outreach and support of local businesses and farms.

 

Gemstone Vineyard

From Oxbow, we drove to our first destination Gemstone Vineyard. The vineyard farm 20 micro-blocks within their 16-acre estate to optimize the uniqueness of their diverse soils and numerous clonal selections. When Thomas Rivers Brown joined Gemstone in 2007, he immediately understood that the estate could support three stylistically distinct expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon.

While sitting outside under the trees, having a very delicious lunch, we were fortunate to taste wines they only had very few left of. And I understand why. To be honest, I'm not a wine person, I don't know much about wine, I'm the kind of person you would not pick to choose the wine. Okay, now you know - but I could tell that these wines are not something you get every day. 

 

Sinegal Estate Winery

Sinegal Estate Winery is one of the oldest vineyards in Napa. It is historically know as The Inglewood Estate, with 30-acres with perfect soil, subtle microclimates and varied terrain.

The first vines was planted back in 1881, by Alton Williams, and 4 years later they harvested for the first time. 130 years later, Sinegal Estate will release its first wine. The Estate has a diverse selection of varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Masque, and Semilion.

The Estate is magnificent. It’s modern with a classic, warm European style. Everything is clean, from the design of the tasting room, the labels on the bottles, to the barrels. For me, and my self-diagnosed OCD, a true pleasure to the eye.

Beth welcomed us and showed us everything. How they sort the grapes, where the store the wine and for how long. The French oak barrels, and made sure we tasted a good selection of their wines. Sinegal produces 3000 cases a year. They mainly sell through their membership club, to a few restaurants, so not easy to get a hold of their wines. Again these wines were something more than every day wine.