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Wine Diary

Carts and Boxes

October 4, 2010

In the 1960s and 1970s, when we children were allowed to help during the grape harvest, harvesting was physically very demanding as well as complex: the grapes were cut into buckets which were emptied into hods. To make sure the hod carriers did not have too easy a time, the grapes were squeezed tightly into the containers.

Strongly-built men carried the hods to the end of the row, where they were filled into larger, open vats.
A tractor rumbled to the cellar, where the tough guys were in action once more. The grapes were unloaded into a big trough with large forks and shovels. The result was that the content of the trough consisted not of grapes, but of a jammy pulp.

Today, we do our utmost to get the grapes into the cellar without damaging them. In years such as this one we also clean them in the vineyard.

The grapes are put into small boxes of different colours, from which they are poured directly into the press.

After every utilization, the boxes are washed with fresh spring water. There is no transferring of grapes, no premature crushing, no unwanted contact with wild yeasts or mould fungi, a minimum of mechanical stress.

The time of the strongmen is over – even in the vineyards, the small boxes are conveniently ferried around on self-made carts.

In some respects, our vinification is comparable with the practices of ancient Egypt, when grapes were collected in baskets and poured loosely into a crushing vat, where they were crushed with the weight of a single body by treading them with the feet.

The pressure generated by this method is about one Bar, equivalent to the pressure which we today create in our modern pneumatic press.

The first sekt base wines show excellent quality, but they are still a little on the light side (ten percent alcohol). We will need more mature grapes in order to create a cuvée combining this freshness with a satisfying roundness and warmth. The first grapes of the lightest Veltliner (from young vines) are already beautiful, but I must admit that 2010 is a real challenge for wine producers. Instead of sunny days and cool nights we are experiencing persistently foggy conditions, low temperatures and wet weather. We don’t yet give up hope for a little more sun.

Meanwhile, we do our very best to carry the grapes, cleaned in the vineyard of all impurities such as mould and dubious berries, into the cellar with the greatest devotion.