From the Grape to the Glass Pt 3: Harvest and Crush

In August we began following the 2010 Barrister Winery Bacchus Cabernet Sauvignon from the grape to the glass. The 2010 vintage has been a nail-biter and with grapes being harvested on November 4, Barrister owners Greg Lipsker and Michael White waited until the last possible minute to get as much flavor in the grape as possible. Harvest time has arrived, now the work begins.

The Bacchus Cabernet vines, planted in 1972, are some of the oldest in the state. Wineries like Longshadows, Efeste, Walla Walla Vintners, and Barrister bring in grapes from Sagemoor group (Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, and Sagemoor Farms). This year, Barrister is brought in 8 tons of Cabernet from Bacchus, nearly twice last year’s amount. The extended hang time in late October allowed the wines to slowly mature and develop in flavor without the additional sugar. Grapes were harvested at 24 brix (sugar level), down from the typical 26+ brix. The result will most likely be wines that are high in flavor without the high alcohol.

The Crush

When the grapes arrive at Barrister, the process for making wine begins. A group of loyal volunteers and some paid staff move the grapes into a de-stemming and crushing machine. The volunteers remove clumps of dirt, leaves, and any raisin berries they can find. The grapes roll down the chute to be gently crushed. Barrister uses a gentle crush to not overly expose the skin which helps keep the tannin level more smooth. This is a trademark of Barrister wine. Once the grapes are crushed they then cold soak for 24-48 hours before entering fermentation.

Fermentation is the process where the grapes sugar converts to alcohol. Barrister ads four different yeasts during the fermentation process. The yeast is a food for the sugar as it converts to alcohol. Part four of the series will look at the fermentation process, punching down, pressing and moving the wine into various barrels.

The Volunteers

Volunteers are the life blood of a small winery. “We could not do what needs to be done during crush without their help,” says Greg Lipsker. The volunteers arrive early and work late into the day on the de-stemming machine. Each volunteer leaves with sticky clothes, purple fingers, and a bottle of their favorite Barrister wine. Volunteers are also a part of bottling, racking, labeling, and more.

The 2010 vintage is in the books and now the grapes are in the talented hands of Greg Lipsker and Michael White to become the wine that we all have come to love. Continue to follow the journey from the grape to the glass as we look at fermentation to the barrel, barrel aging, and finally bottling. Stay tuned, as the 2010 vintage looks to be a special one that you won’t want to miss.


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)

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