As we close in on the beginnings of #Harvest2012 (‘Round and ’round and ’round she goes, when will she start? Nobody knows!), sampling becomes an ever-more earnest and vital business. With ever-increasing frequency and intensity, and with an ever-escalating sense of purpose, vineyard teams make their ways into the vine-rows, pulling berries left and right, to be macerated and tasted with ever-more fierce degrees of discernment.
It is no exaggeration to say that decisions made during the sampling process have ramifications that play out over decades.
At the end of the day, there is one thing, and one thing only, that determines the how/why/what/where/when of harvest: flavor. For the collective Production Palate, this is the moment when one’s capabilities are stretched to their furthest limits. This is John Coltrane in the 68th chorus. This is Han-Shan, alone again before the Cold Mountain wall. This is Jackson Pollock hovering over the canvas as the roping snake of paint is about to strike. This is tasting as athletics; the penultimate draw upon a lifetime’s well of practice, discipline, development, and willpower.
This is serious.
And so, all the more reason to indulge in a little levity before the proverbial grape hits the destemmer. Thus, the following (from Monte Bello viticulturist Kyle Theriot):
“The golden rule of sampling: always wash your hands before getting back in the truck.” –Kyle Theriot