Blessing grapes a tradition as wineries' harvest begins
With the harvest of wine grapes underway at wineries all along the Central Coast, a ceremony that's become a tradition at Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards took place Thursday inside one of the company's crushing rooms in Buellton.
About 20 winery owners, workers and visitors gathered around half a dozen bins filled with clusters of pinot grigio to witnes Father John Finley conduct a blessing of the grapes, asking not only for a good harvest but also a successful fermentation and bottling, ultimately ending with fine vintage varietals on consumers' tables.
In my 40 some years growing grapes in Santa Barbara County, I haven’t seen two back-to-back years that reached this level in volume and quality. I credit the weather and also the condition of our vineyards. When Mother Nature leaves you alone during harvest, and you’re able to pick almost everything at optimum, it’s something special.
With today’s picking, we are starting on the second half of harvest 2013. We farmers always talk about the weather. It is THE controlling factor in many cases and this year is no different. With little rain since December, a nice spring, good summer, and a few heat spikes, the crop is almost is large as last year’s bumper crop of 2012.
With prayers and sprinkles of Holy Water on a half-ton bin of hand-picked pinot grigio grapes, the Rev. John Finley performed a special “blessing of the grapes” last week at the Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards facility in Buellton.
Harvest 2013 started a few days ago with the picking of a little Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Sparkling Wine. The past few days, we’ve been picking Valley View Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio in Los Alamos. There are many variables in each year’s harvest and the most difficult thing is having the patience to wait until a grape is at the point of perfection.