Harvest is here! 



As my alarm went off at 4:30  Monday morning I instantly regretted my desire to focus on wine hybrids this year.  A brewing system doesn’t know what time it is, but a grape does and alas they like to be picked when its cool outside.  So I crept out of bed trying not to wake up the family and jumped in the truck towards Shandon, a town I didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago when wine makers Curt Schalchlin, Andrew Jones and I were going over collab ideas.  A week ago we had met at their Fableist Winery in Paso Robles, before loading in a truck and driving 30 or so minutes north east to a beautiful family owned and operated cattle ranch, farm and vineyard.  A 6 pack of Firestone in hand we met the vineyard owner and chatted about the vines planted by his family back in the early 70’s.  Brix were counted, cans were cracked and ideas were sprung.  Returning early in the morning a week later with clouds in the sky and lightening firing off in the distance was ominous and very strange for this or any time of year on the Central Coast of California.  It was a very different vibe than the dry heat and lazy atmosphere of the farm a week earlier.  I pulled up to see a crew of 8 workers aggressively plowing through the vines picking at a near blur.  I knew getting in their way was futile so I stepped back and chatted with Andrew about the process and how unique and amazing these vines were.  It seemed the storm was all around us and we were trying to beat mother nature as she plowed away on the delicate sensibilities of our temperate central coast.  As the eye of the storm watched from above, we finished up our two bins of grapes and I jumped back into the safety of my truck.  Andrew gave me a quick tour of the ranch and we headed back to the monotony of our respective production facilities. 

These Petite Syrah grapes will be foot tread this week and left in the bins to co-ferment with our beautiful chocolate porter we brewed the day of picking.  We will leave them on skin letting them conferment and extract as much of the juice from the grapes as possible.  Draining it completely and foot treading multiple times over the following weeks to create an amazingly complex and one of a kind wild ale/wine hybrid.  Look for more info on the project soon.


Sean Zurbriggen