From the Grape to the Glass: Pt 1 Progress Reports

How does the grape get into the glass? As you sit and sip the romance that is wine have you ever thought about the process that goes into making it? I’ve heard it said that, “Winemaking is 70% growing the grapes, 10% patience, 10% luck, 10% cleaning the toilets, and a whole lot of drinking beer.” While I know there is more to it than that, what really lies behind the glamour in the glass? This series follows winemaker Greg Lipsker, of Barrister Winery, and the journey of their Bacchus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon…from the grape to the glass.


Part 1 – Progress Reports

Barrister Winery, located in Spokane Washington, contracts with the Sagemoor group for specific rows of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from the Bacchus Vineyards. Sagemoor is a partnership of four distinct vineyards, Bacchus, Sagemoor, Dionysus and Weinbau consisting of 900 planted acres. The Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards were planted in 1972 and 1973 and are made up of vines that have never frozen to the ground. This age and maturity makes these vineyards some of the most coveted in the state in producing consistently high quality wine. The vineyards are about 10 minutes north of the Tri-Cities along the banks of the Columbia River. Good wine starts with good grapes.

The Sagemoor group was the state’s first, and now the largest, vineyard group not tied to a specific winery. Top wineries from Spokane’s Barrister and Arbor Crest to other key wineries like Chateau St. Michelle, Long Shadows, Columbia Crest, Fidelitas, Vin Du Lac, Woodward Canyon (70 in all) use Sagemoor Group fruit.

Wine making is a year long process. Each spring the vineyard is buzzing with activity as the vines spring to life and pruning begins. As the year progresses, the vineyard manager keeps Greg informed of the progress and tends Barrister’s rows to Greg’s specifications. Once the buds break and the clusters begin to form, Greg, and co-owner Michael White often make the 90 minute journey from Spokane for progress reports.

On this journey Greg meets with the managing director, John Vitalich, general manager, Kent Waliser and vineyard manager, Derek Way to discuss the progress of the Cabernet and talk viticulture strategy for coping with the unseasonably cool year. 2010 has been a very cool year and is being compared to one of the coolest on record (for winemaking). The progress of the grapes is about 10 days behind which could potentially push harvest into a timeframe where cool temperatures are a concern. During Greg’s visit the grapes are going through veraison where they turn from green to purple. The vineyard crew is busy at work thinning shoots, removing sunburned and poor performing berries, to help drive the plant’s energy to the strong clusters.

Greg spends about an hour getting the update before hopping back in his Toyota Prius…off to check on more grapes from another vineyard. Stay tuned…


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

3 comments on “From the Grape to the Glass: Pt 1 Progress Reports

  1. Scott Greenberg

    I was just there myself on Friday, walking the Bacchus Riesling rows with Derek. Veraison is proceeding, with a large leap over the past week or so. One strange thing at Bacchus and other vineyards I visited was that Cabernet was ahead of Merlot on veraison, even though it is generally a later-ripening grape. The growers believed that Merlot would ripen very quickly and still be picked before Cabernet. This will certainly be an interesting harvest.

  2. Pingback: From the Grape to the Glass: Pt 2 Science of Grapes | Drink Nectar

  3. Pingback: From the Grape to the Glass Pt 4: Press to Barrel | Nectar Tasting Room and Wine Blog

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