When I moved back to Oregon from California, I had a tough adjustment to the winters… I found them rainy, cloud covered, and insular. In wine, there is a frantic energy during the growing season, which slows to what I considered to be an anti-climactic letdown in the winter. In the past few years, I have given in to the introspective beauty of Cellar Season, which is the quiet time when vines are sleeping and wines are snug in their barrels slowly maturing through malolactic fermentation. Here are 3 magical things that happen this time of year:
1) Letting Go: Vines are dormant, so this is the time to prune, or cut away that which is no longer needed from last year and select and nurture those vines that we want to bear fruit this year and next year. Cultivating this process invites us to let go of that which no longer serves us and think with intention about what we want to bear fruit going forward. Following the rhythm of a vineyard’s season can bring us more closely in touch with our own spiritual rhythms. After my dad died, this became a crucial anchor to me- no matter how unmoored I felt, the seasons of the vineyard would continue to come and go.
2) Taste Slowly: During harvest, I may taste every ferementer daily. It’s fast and immediate decisions are required. During cellar season, there are no immediate decisions required- it is simply the time to thoughtfully taste each barrel. I like to do so slowly and in solitude.
3) Go Out Tasting: After a busy summer and fall season, tasting rooms slow down. This is the time of year our tasting room staff goes out to other tasting rooms in the community. It is quiet and we can expect warm hospitality and unhurried tastings with interesting conversation.
Read my comments on Cellar Seasons here.