September 17, 2001
Grapes arrive for first crush
Columbia Winery received its first load of grapes last Tuesday, kicking off this year's crush.
The grapes arrived in bins on trucks from Eastern Washington during the middle of the night.
A forklift transferred the bins of grapes into the destemming machine one at a time.
A winery worker fed the grapes down the destemming shoot and then rised the bin, which added a small amount of water.
The grapes were then pumped through a hose into a fermenting tank where they will process until the crush.
Award-winning winemaker David Lake had been in the Red Willow vineyards the day before and determined that sugar content was perfect and based on that and his tastebuds, he determined that the grapes were ready.
Lake traveled backed to Columbia to supervise the process.
The first grapes through were Red Willow merlots.
Lake said that although this is one of the best years for Washington grapes, merlots from the vineyards he uses were in smaller supply.
He thought that a slow spring and with an organic approach in the vineyards the cutworms eating the first shoots may be the cause.
The merlot from this crush will be ready in three years.