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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting Ready for Harvest - In the Alps

Harvest is Coming
We are now getting ready for Harvest and plan to be much more regular about Blog entries from here on this fall. The grapes started turning color in early August and looked like this at the beginning of the first week.

By mid - August they had really started to turn color. 

Count ahead 60 days and they will be ready to pick. Probably around October 15. The grapes in these photos are Cabernet Sauvignon and this year they are quite a bit ahead of the Merlot.  We probably won't pick the Merlot until sometime near the end of October and we already have our fingers crossed, hoping that we can get them picked before it rains.

Training for Harvest in the Alps

The Kitchaks and the Bashioums (Ralph is our partner and Cellar Master you will recall) took a little time off to train for the all of the hard work Harvest is certain to bring.  We decided a hiking trip in the French and Swiss Alps would provide some needed exercise and some real food so, off we went.

First stop was Chamonix in the French Alps.
Here we are, high in the Alps above Chamonix with Mt. Blanc in the background. L to R -Patricia, Peter, Lindsay Bashioum and Ralph Bashioum.

Kitchak Cellars was well represented and advertised as we traveled,
with both Patricia K and Lindsay Bashioum wearing their Kitchak Cellars hats everywhere. Surprisingly enough, a number of people noticed, we handed out business cards, added a number of people to our mailing list and had a few people tells us they would be sure to stop at the winery on their next trip to Napa.

During the trip, we, according to our normal practice when traveling, drank only local wines. While Swiss wines are probably not among the best in the world, they are interesting. The Swiss have actually been making wine since Roman times, long before anyone even thought of wine in the US. We drank a local Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot and a Merlot/Cabernet blend. But even more interesting we drank a white wine from a grape called Heida (a clone of Sauvignon Blanc I think), and a red wine from  the Humagne Rouge Grape. According to the Swiss Wine association's web site, the Humagne Rouge is a late-harvest and robust grape variety, whose cultivated surface has largely increased during the last 20 years. Its distinguished wines are not very tannic, have wild berry aromas and are an ideal accompaniment for game dishes.

The Beer is Better in Switzerland

But we also drank the local beer. Feldschlösschen or Cardinal. And, a fair amount of it. Frankly, after a long hike the beer was a much better accompaniment at lunch than wine.  The photo below was taken at a mountain restaurant above Zermatt with the Matterhorn in the background.

This photo was taken about 2PM.  We started hiking that day around 9:30AM and finished just before 6PM. With a great one hour stop for lunch. A formidable day in the mountains.

So...we are now relaxed, in shape; waiting for harvest and ready for all of the hard work we will have to do over the next few weeks to get ready. Stay tuned.