Grape sorting round-up, plus thoughts on beer blogging

Yesterday’s grape sorting went well, I think.  Seven of us—three winemakers and four volunteers—processed 9 or 10 tons of fruit from a vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills.

While sorting is busy, and somewhat physical work, it leaves a good amount of time for conversation, if you’re up for talking over the noise of the sorting table.  We talked a lot of viticulture, since we had the results right in front of us; I was able to connect a lot of stuff I’d only read about with the real product in front of me.  We also talked about Oregon beers (Deschutes!  Pelican!  Ninkasi!), and the beginnings of a trend among Willamette Valley winemakers to move into Portland proper.

But mostly we stared at grapes, and smelled grapes, and tasted grapes, and pulled leaves and shriveled hard raisins and squooshy, slightly-rotting clusters off the table. It was more messy than I expected.  There was grape juice, and skins, and seeds everywhere.  The winery has hot and cold running water in high-volume hoses with serious industrial garden-type nozzles, and it’s clear that they need it.

I climbed into bed last night, exhausted, with the feeling of small round grapes still rolling around under my fingers. I wouldn’t want to do this every week, but I suspect I’ll be back for harvest again next year.  Ultimately, wine making world has the same appeal to me as brewing: it’s alchemy.  You do your best to create a microcosm where life can flourish and transform your sticky slurry into a layered sensory experience.

I’ve been starting to put together a blogroll, which you’ll see on the right, and it’s been an interesting exercise.  My impression is that while there are a lot of resources on the internet for homebrewers—it’s where I learned much of what I know on the subject—the world of beer blogs is much less developed than is the case for wine blogs.  There are a lot of dead beer blogs out there, and they occupy many of the top Google search results.  I’ve found some promising examples, though, and I’ll be keeping an eye on them and sharing the best articles I find.  With a little community building, we should be able to make the good content much easier to find.

I’ll start with a shout-out to my friend Kevin Weedon, self-described Real Ale Bore.  Kevin’s an English transplant living in Davis, California, and a nontrivial portion of all of our conversations have revolved around beer.  I only recently discovered his blog Kevin’s Real Beer Blog, though, and I’m pleased to see that he’s having no trouble finding plenty of beers that suit his palate.

I see that Hair of the Dog proprietor Alan Sprints will be at a Meet-the-Brewer event at the Green Dragon Pub tonight.  I love what Alan does—he’s the model of an independent, iconoclastic brewer—and I may have to try to make it down for that.  Will report tomorrow if I do.



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One Response to “Grape sorting round-up, plus thoughts on beer blogging”

  1. Kevin Weedon Says:

    Any fermentation is magic, whether wine or beer or bread. Alchemy is the perfect word! I used to make country wines and beer back in the UK, and there was always the sense that I was involved in some universal and magical process.

    A friend of mine worked in a French vineyard some years ago and came back a changed man, so I’m not at all surprised by your feelings about this experience. Oh, and jealous, too.

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