I’ve been in Washington state for the past few days, volunteering as a winemaker’s assistant for Pomum Cellars, based in Woodinville.
I’ve been checking on the grapes growing at the vineyards in the Yakima Valley, collected grapes that have been harvested
and I have hand-sorted, crushed and pressed the grapes. And I have cleaned and rinsed, scrubbed and rinsed, swept and rinsed some more. Today I’m in for even more of the adventure.
When Javier Alfonso, invited me to come and accompany him he offered the following disclaimer:
We are a small winery, meaning I’m the Winemaker and chief janitor. I work pretty much alone on day to day operations and use a crew of volunteers as needed. If you come the work will be pretty grueling. Lots of cleaning and lots of getting wine and grapes all over yourself. Bring comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting ruined.
His warning was spot on: It has been more physical work than I ever expected, and a LOT more cleaning than I ever imagined. It has also been absolutely fascinating and an amazing experience. Javier loves making wine, places great value on tending to the details and he takes great pride in his wines, as he should.
He has been an excellent ambassador not just for his own winery, but for the wine and agriculture industry in Washington as a whole.
As I sort through more than 400 photos and pages of notes, I will share my experiences with you so you, too, can get a true behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a quality bottle of wine.
For now, though, I have to report back to work. There’s more wine-making to be done!