winemaking

Family Winemakers: Enhancing the Enjoyment of Wine

by Scott Harvey on March 5, 2013

Jana and I had been in the wine industry for many years when we started our own family wine company 10 years ago.  We are excited about the Jana and Scott Harvey wines we have developed along with our California blends of One Last Kiss and InZinerator.  It has been–and still is–an enjoyable journey.

We have developed many friends along the way.  They tend to be people who like wines that can be produced by a family company such as ours.  As a Family Winemaker, we can express our passion much better in the wines we make.  Our limited production makes it possible for our principles to be more defined and uncompromising.

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Vineyards in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean

by Jana Harvey on July 1, 2012

Horta, Azores

Viewing all of the messages from crews making their way across the Atlantic

This was the second stop as Scott and I crossed the Atlantic on the Oceania cruise ship.  The Azores are an archipelago of nine Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean–about 950 miles west of Lisbon.   We had an opportunity to visit two of the islands–Horta and Ponta Delgada.  Faial Island was the smaller of the two and looked like an ideal spot to take a break for yachts crossing the Atlantic in the town of Horta.  The sea wall is covered with hundreds of paintings and messages left by the sea-travelers who call in at the port.  In 1957 there was a great volcanic eruption and many of the residents were unable to make a living as their farms were covered with ash.  Many of the inhabitants emigrated to the U.S. aided by Senator John F. Kennedy.  A large number settled in the Central Valley of California.  Continue Reading

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Becoming a Winemaker can be a Great Adventure

by Scott Harvey on June 7, 2012

Scott Harvey hitchiking across the U.S.

Scott leaving the Sierras for Florida

Back in 1972 I was sent to Germany as a high school AFS (American Field Service) exchange student.  It changed my life.  I was placed in a  wine making region (Rheinland Pfalz) with a family that was indirectly involved in the wine industry.  I spent much of my time working in the vineyards and enjoying the wines.  Not bad for an 18 year old who could not legally drink at home.  It was then that I was bitten by the wine bug and dreamed about becoming a winemaker.
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Mechanical harvesting vs. hand picked grapes

by Jana Harvey on October 15, 2010

Even though we’ve now lived in this vineyard for over six years, I still get excited when the grapes are being picked right outside our door.  It was especially thrilling because we were harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time from the Carpenter Ranch vineyard for our 2010 Jana Cathedral. Picker

 

As I was photographing the moment, the whirring of the mechanical harvester interrupted the early morning calm. The noise was coming from the adjacent vineyard that was leased by a large Napa Valley winery owned by a international conglomerate.  Closeupmech

The men whispered quietly as they worked, seemingly aware of this technological marvel threatening their livelihood next door.  Was it the sound of the future – of jobs lost to yet another industrial device?  With a couple of my friends, I scrambled through the rows of vines just in time to see it engulf a row of grapes and extract the little berries from the cluster.   We were lucky to meet the harvesting supervisor who explained to us the nuances of this machine.

The machine’s computerized picking mechanism is sensitive enough to shake the clusters at the just right vibrations so that the ripe berries fall off and raisins are left on the stems.  We went down the rows after it had harvested them and were amazed at how clean the stems were.  The supervisor explained that it’s a very clean harvest with few stems and leaves. Mechbunch

Because we pride ourselves on our “handcrafted wines”, I wondered what Scott thought of this process.  He’s a traditionalist so he prefers the pickers.  Although he said they are now machine harvesting in the Rhineland Pfalz in Germany where Scott learned his winemaking skills.  I wonder how many other parts of the world have adopted this amazing machine.

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The then and now of Grape Stomping

by Jana Harvey on October 5, 2010

Those of us who are Baby Boomers have etched in our memories the image of Lucy and Ethel stomping grapes in large wooden vats. For many of us, it’s the epitome of winemaking. Life throws many challenges at winemakers as we wrestle with transforming those beautiful grapes into a wonderful bottle of wine.

This year, at our Scott Harvey Grape Stomping Competition at our home in Napa Valley, the competitors got down and dirty for the title of Grand Stompers. Thirty-five competitors vied for the title and most looked a bit like Lucy and Ethel – their faces, arms, feet and legs were spattered with bright red grape juice. Scott got the brilliant idea to use alicante bouschet donated by Martella Vineyards of Amador County–one of the few varietals that run red juice. This made for a very dramatic effect for the stompers.There were probably lots of red feet the next day.  Grape stomp 032
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Techniques varied and foot sizes were measured. Many who won were convinced that the scrapers were actually the most important. Several fouls were called on those who tried to tilt their barrels or use their hands instead of their feet. At the finals, four barrels with eight competitors were a study of technique. Many were convinced right up to the end that they were winning – their hopes dashed by a couple of tiny, feisty young women from San Francisco.

Well people still tread grapes by foot today although many regions have outlawed it for health reasons. Foot treading has been around almost as long as wine and has certain advantages. When you are in the vat treading the grapes you can feel the clumps and break them up avoiding hot spots in the must and your foot has a different motion mechanical crusher destemmer which is essentially a giant auger.

The art and science of viticulture is thousands of years old and grape stomping was an important processes in the creation of wine for many civilizations. Over the centuries, crushing was done by foot with people stomping (or treading) the grapes to crush open the fruit. From ancient Egypt on, artifacts such as treading vessels have been found.

In Mesopotamia, the area of present day Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, grapes were first cultivated and viniculture first practiced 5000 years ago. The Code of Humarabi, inscribed about 4000 years ago, was earth’s first written code of law and this code contains edicts governing the making and selling of wine.

During the time of Pharaohs, the god Osiris, who was considered as the son of Earth and Heaven, was being worshiped by the ancient Egyptians. They linked his yearly resurrection to the blooming and budding grapevines every year. Nile River was another thing that was being worshiped by them because of its priceless gift of rich, fertile soil just after flooded over its banks and receded. The Egyptians discovered that they could cultivate flourishing grapevines utilizing this opportunity.

The Greeks became the first recorded people in history to plant commercial vineyards and market their wine in other countries, around 3500 years ago. There is documentation that in ancient Greece, the Greeks stomped while listening to a flute.   The Greeks in order to maintain balance would hold onto overhead ropes or supports.  Obviously, labor costs became very high utilizing this method. The advent of industrial age with its new technology rendered the practice almost extinct, except for festivals and the making of some ports. The Romans borrowed and adapted much of Greek culture to their own as they conquered the older culture. Viticulture was included in this legacy of Greece to Rome. As the Roman Empire grew, viniculture grew with it, vineyards being planted in areas which were to become the modern nations of France, Germany, Italy, and England. Many of the vineyards established under Roman rule are still wine producing areas today.

Roman might failed in 476 AD, the empire falling to Germanic invasion. Europe suffered a major setback both politically and scientifically, with institutions and learning coming to a halt. Viticulture survived this catastrophe because of the importance of wine in the newly ascendant Christian religion. Monks helped preserve the methods of winemaking and the vineyards necessary to practice it.

In ancient times, good drinking water was a thing that can’t be found anywhere and as people needed to drink something with their meals, a wonderful alternative was wine. Several indications like markings on tomb walls and stone tables were found of producing wine in Mesopotamia as far earlier as 6000 B.C. The wine that was produced by the Mesopotamians was possibly very rough compared to recent wines that we drink at present, but it was lot better than the available drinking water. In learning how to make homemade wine, it is important to know who first produced wine and learn how far it has come.

With the advancement of technological procedures, the industry of winemaking developed better techniques for production, which generated better and various kinds of wines. New techniques of storage such as refrigeration produced a brand new process. The process of fermentation could be controlled by changing temperatures at decisive times. All these procedures results better wines.

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