Question & Answer time again – Question: What’s the difference between God & Winemakers?
The Answer will be at the end of this blog. My apologies in advance to Anna, Macario, and perhaps 3 or 4 other winemakers for dredging up this old witticism.
Some of you may have assumed from that title there would be some terroir tossing (AKA mud slinging). Nope, I'm not going there.
I wouldn’t call myself a winemaker, but I did make wine for several years. I used to refer to myself as a “recipe” winemaker. I would make wine following the instructions from various printed sources. All along the way I would ask more learned people than myself to taste the wine and tell me what the wine test analysis numbers meant and what I should do to correct any irregularities or problems. I doubt the wines would have won any awards in competitions, but I thought they turned out quite well.
The first wine I made was with “second crop” Cabernet Franc grapes. Answers.com defines second crop grapes as “Grapes from clusters where flowering took place noticeably after the main flowering. This group of grapes will not mature with the first group and will still be unripe during the initial harvest. If growers are willing to wait until this second crop matures, the quality can be excellent, but it is often so small that it's not cost-effective to pick.”
So these second crop grapes were free for the picking. The main crop had been picked weeks earlier, but the rains had held off and these late blooming small clusters with small berries eventually matured. The small berries, combined with a long hang time turned out to be a great combination, and the resulting wine was one of my best efforts. Free, second crop grapes used to be the fruit of choice for local home winemakers.
The following is from one of my first blogs: Grape Contracts Past & Present;
“…One other thing to consider is that the ripeness of the grapes varied from bunch to bunch and vine to vine more than today’s premium wine vineyards. Some winemakers feel the most important factor for quality grapes is a uniform crop. Today, most vineyards receive more time and attention than those of past years, at least in the premium wine category. There is much more emphasis on canopy management, sun exposure, water management and selective fruit thinning. Probably the biggest contribution to a uniform crop is the selective fruit thinning. Selective fruit thinning is when small bunches, and less-ripe bunches, and excessive numbers of bunches are cut off the vine to promote uniform ripening of the rest of the crop. This is not done without a bit of anguish. Imagine paying all year long for the best care of your vineyard, only to have to PAY MORE to have some of the fruit cut off and just fall to the ground.”
So, over the years, more & more premium wine grape growers began cutting off these “second crop” grapes long before the first crop reached maturity. As a result, many home winemakers lost their sources of “free” grapes, and were forced to look elsewhere. And if that wasn’t damaging enough, many growers will no longer risk the liability of allowing non-employees access to their vineyards – They have nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Now, the answer to the question:
What’s the difference between God & Winemakers?
God doesn’t think he/she is a winemaker.
Footnote for those of you sharp enough to question that picture at the top: Those are not second crop grapes. I searched our picture archives and could not find a second crop grape cluster. Seems nobody wants to take pictures of second crop clusters, and it's too early in the year to go find them in the vineyard. That is a picture of a cluster affected by what is called "shatter" (see the missing berries at bottom?) But if you ignore that lower part of the stem and squint a bit...