Folie a Deux Crush Fantasy

That’s All Folks! by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
December 1, 2009, 1:49 am
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Well, harvest has come to a close. I wrapped up my final week as the Folie a Deux intern and I can only look back on it as a wild, fun, hard and exhausting harvest. We were very reflective on our last day and agreed that coming into the harvest we never would have thought that we would have this much fun.

I spent my final days doing exactly what I started with: cleaning.  We scrubbed every pump, tank and bin in the winery. The place is sparkling clean and put to bed until the next harvest. It really did feel like the clean-up crew after raucous party.

Even though we’re all sad about the end of the harvest, I am looking forward to seeing the 2009 vintage of Folie a Deux in the bottle. I can only imagine it will be incredibly rewarding to taste the wines that we all worked so hard on this fall.

Thanks to all of my fellow harvest crew and to finish it off, here are a couple final photos!

All the best,

In the Barrel Room

A Juice Shower

Clean up after the party by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
November 2, 2009, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

It has been a week since we brought in our final load of grapes! So, in a way, harvest is coming to a close. But don’t tune out yet! There are more good times and hard work to come. I won’t be done until the last tanks make their way up to the barrels. But for now, it’s time to bring on the clean up. As you can imagine, everything at the winery has acquired a purple/burgundy tint to it. It is kind of like the clean up after a big party. The harvest was fast and furious but now it’s time to clean up the mess we’ve made over the past two months!

The Rain Results by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
October 23, 2009, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Napa Valley has been getting significant amounts of rain. Our big storm was followed by a smaller storm so we’ve accepted that we’re officially into the end of harvest. With the weather change you don’t get to see the sunrise very often anymore. It’s been replaced with misty moist mornings with a beautiful fog blanket over the mountains and vineyards.

The rain and cold weather brings down the sugar levels in the grapes . All winemakers want quality, high sugar levels. When the fruit comes into the winery there comes a point when the grapes have to be turned away if the sugar levels are too low. The worth of the grapes goes hand-in-hand with the sugar levels. The growers and vineyard managers in the valley really suffered from the rain if they waited too long to pick. Mother Nature is the boss around here.

by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
October 14, 2009, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

After days of anticipation about a huge storm, the rain has come!

At my last job at the Waldorf kindergarten, we had a saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.”  Easy to say when you’re inside all day! I have joined the ranks of those who work outside in the rain.

When I woke up this morning I thought no big deal just a little rain…I’ve gone outside every rainy school day for the past 5 years. Well, let me tell you, working in the rain for 12 hours is far more difficult then going out for an hour of playtime for the children. This was truly a historic storm with over 3 inches of rain in one day and plenty of wind!

The winery supplied some styling rain gear for us. We were all dressed from head to toe in yellow. As I called down to the wheel from the catwalk, I couldn’t be sure  of whom I was talking to. We all looked the same: a bunch of ducks in the rain! I think everyone who works at the winery has thrown fashion out the door for comfort and weather protection.

An example of Folie a Deux fashion

An example of Folie a Deux fashion

The storm soaked us with record amounts of rain but it sounds as though California is still going to have drought problems. It makes me thankful that the winery reclaims the production water and recycles it for irrigation. Working in an industry that is so dependent on natural resource makes me think twice about wasting these precious resources.

It’s drying up today and tomorrow it should be a beautiful 70 degrees again! Ah, Northern California weather is never bad for long.

Juice Shower by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
October 12, 2009, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Today I made my first big mistake. It was bound to happen sometime but this mistake led me to “enjoy a juice shower.”

I was doing a pump-over and the hose kept clogging up with extra skins. As one of the stoppages unclogged, it sent quite a lot of extra pressure through the hose. I lost control of the hose, it shot out of my hands, and continued to whip around with a mind of its own!

First it sprayed two of my fellow crew members, covering one with juice while the other hid behind an umbrella. Then it flew down to the floor of the catwalk; I jumped on top of it, closed the valve and got it back into the tank. The entire ordeal only lasted all of 30 seconds but it was a chaotic half minute.

When I finally collected myself, I was covered in juice and completely pink. Ah, life as a harvest intern is never dull.

Pump-over….and over and over and over again. by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
October 6, 2009, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

The last couple of days are mostly filled with pump-overs. At first, pump-overs are fun, as all things are when you first learn about them. Each day when I get to the winery, I hook up a hose to the bottom of the tank and run the juice from the bottom to the top with an air pump.  The top of the tank is “capped” with a layer of skins that rise to the top of the juice. In moving the juice to the top of the tank, I’m breaking the “cap” to bring flavor and color to the juice. The time needed to complete a pump-over can be anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. I start my morning with a pump-over that takes two hours; I do enjoy watching the sunrise while I go through this process.

The weather has been tricking us all. Dramatic (well, dramatic for California) weather changes are keeping us on our toes. Rumor is that it might start raining in a week. I’ll keep you updated on how that changes things.

Hope you all enjoyed the pictures of me from my first tank cleaning. I didn’t share the after-shot. It was fun but don’t get me wrong, it was difficult! I was covered in sweat and my face was bright red. When I got out of there, it took me 20 minutes to recover. This harvest intern business is hard work.

As Promised, Pictures of the Harvest Crew by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
October 1, 2009, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Now that I’m working 12-hour days, the Folie a Deux winemaking and production crews have become even more like family. I’m telling you, they’re great to work with! We’ve all been incredibly busy this week. Grape trucks are coming in frequently, keeping us running around just trying to keep up. We are officially deep into harvest.

I had a special request to post some pictures of the crew. Here are a few pictures but there will definitely be more to come!




A Lot of R&R by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
September 29, 2009, 12:22 am
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

My life as an intern at Folie à Deux is packed full of R&R. I’m not talking about rest and relaxation folks. It’s all about rack and return, which isn’t restful or relaxing. It is hard work.

All of this R&R started when our first red grapes came in from the vineyards.  Rack and return is essentially drawing the fermenting must off of the skins and seeds, and sending it into a clean tank. I hook up the intake hose to a bin with a screen to catch skins and seeds and an outtake hose to an empty tank. From here, I drain the tank through the screen and send the juice it to the empty tank. Did I forget to mention that we are dealing with 1000 gallons of juice running through the filter?

Keeping the Screen Open for R&R

Keeping the Screen Clear for R&R

The tank is full of skins and seeds which come out with the juice, all of which needs to be shoveled.  And it is a lot of shoveling.  I literally have to shovel as fast as I can to keep the seeds and skins from clogging the screen. It’s quite the morning workout. My arms look much better than they ever did when I was a kindergarten teacher. The biggest problem I have with this racking is the purple-hands syndrome.

A couple days ago, I picked up my nieces from school and one of my former students said “Teacher Lori, you look like a boy.” I guess the dirty work clothes, cellar boots, stained purple hands, and sun hat  threw him off. Winemaking is not all berets and winemaking clichés. Although, I do feel a bit like Lucy and Ethel while I’m stomping around inside the tanks.

Shoveling Inside the Tank

Shoveling Inside the Tank

I must say, it’s challenging getting up crazy early and shoveling grape skins at five in the morning. What I like about the R&R is when I’m ready to return, it’s just about sunrise. I can go up on the winery catwalk and watch the fog lift while the sun rises over the mountains and vineyards. It makes these 12 hour days worth it!

Greetings, From Inside a Wine Tank!

Greetings, From Inside a Wine Tank!

Slow and Sparkling Start to the Harvest by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
September 23, 2009, 12:19 am
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

The harvest season at Folie à Deux is off to a late start. We’ve had white grapes come in, but it’s been slow.  The upside is that we couldn’t be more prepared. The winery is so clean that it sparkles! Every tank has been washed and they are now ready and waiting to be filled with juice. Guess who got to clean all those tanks? The interns, of course.

So, where are all the grapes? Come on California! Give us the heat we need to bring up the sugar levels! The grapes can’t be picked until the sugar level is just right. It’s going to be in 100s this week so hopefully that will give us the heat we need to give us nice sweet grapes.

As our grapes continue to ripen on the vine, our barrel rooms and tanks are seeing all the action. Right now, we have some of our 2009 whites in the tanks and some of the 2008 wines are starting to make their journey to the barrels. Also, wines that are currently in the barrels are getting ready for bottling. It’s like musical chairs for all the different wines as they start to move around the winery. I’m getting the feeling it’s all about timing and making sure no grapes are left without a chair when the music stops!

For people who are new to winemaking, I thought I’d give a very quick overview of the first steps of the winemaking process…and I mean very quick, because the entire winemaking process takes several months to a couple of years to complete.

When the grapes (which I’ve learned are called berries) first arrive at the winery they are put into big silver bins called hoppers.

Sneaking Berries out of the Hopper

Sneaking Berries Out of the Hopper

The berries are then pushed by an auger—which looks like a giant corkscrew—into the de-stemmer. The de-stemmer separates the berries from the stems before they go into the crusher. The crusher gently presses the berries and then the skins and juice are pumped into a tank. As you can see, the equipment has self-explanatory names: the de-stemmer, the crusher, etc. It sure makes it easier for the interns to remember which equipment does each function.

The juice is later pressed and all of the skins are removed before fermentation. (White wines generally go straight to press or shortly thereafter destemming.) The wines begin fermentation in stainless steel tanks and then some of the wine varieties will be moved to barrels. This is where Joe Shirley, our winemaker, works his magic as small changes are made to make each wine unique.

Since we’re still in the beginning stages of the winemaking process, I’ll stop here. More details soon.

Harvest Blog 2009 – #1! by The Folie a Deux Harvest Intern
September 18, 2009, 3:33 am
Filed under: Harvest Adventures

Welcome to the Folie à Deux Harvest Blog for 2009!

Harvest is really getting started here at Folie à Deux, which is incredibly exciting since the last couple of weeks have been full of anticipation.

My first day on the job, I was a bit nervous with not knowing what to expect. That feeling was soon forgotten the moment I met the harvest crew. What an amazing group of guys and they are as friendly as family!

Here’s a short introduction of some of my Folie à Deux co-workers:

Vince a.k.a my boss. He calls the shots with a smile. J

Jordan, Jeorge, Ron, Pelon, Milo and Andy are some of my coworkers. They were so welcoming to the new interns and I’m incredibly impressed with their patience as they train us! I can already tell that there is a great closeness that can only come with a small cellar crew.

Joe Shirley—He’s the winemaker here at Folie à Deux. Since 2007, Joe’s been making Folie à Deux and before that he worked for the Trinchero Family and Sonoma Cutrer. I’m looking forward to spending some more time with Joe; he’s incredibly passionate about making wine and he’s a Napa Valley native like me.

Harvest has been late this year. August 30th brought our first load of grapes to the winery: Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc grapes are typically the first grapes that come into the winery during harvest because they are grown in warmer regions and ripen the fastest. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are picked at about 22 Brix (sugar-to-water mass ratio) or lower, which makes the wine young and crisp. On the other hand, Chardonnay is picked at approximately 24 o4 25 Brix and is grown in cooler areas, so it comes into the winery later. I could really feel the buzz in the air when the call came that the truck was on its way. Everyone headed to the hopper, awaiting the grapes arrival. I have never seen so many clusters of grapes in all my life. Joe Shirley was there to make sure the grapes were up to standard. A cup of fresh grape juice from the press was passed around for all of us to taste….delicious!

Outside Folie a Deux with the dancers

Outside Folie a Deux, my new job for havest 2009


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