Author/作者: 杜小雯 (Xiao)
English Editor/英文母语编辑: Isabell （伊莎）
眼睛累了不想看屏幕？在路上不方便阅读？您可以来听作者们为您朗读的这个博客喔！Don’t feel like reading? You don’t have to! Tune in to listen to our authors read you this blog.
中文原声 – Chinese by 杜小雯 （Xiao）
英文原声 – English by Isabell （伊莎）
The harvest is a burst of passion, a kind of nirvana where I feel reborn, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a youthful dream. There is laughter and song, unwavering footsteps on the ground, shared enthusiasm for winemaking…and bruises (can’t forget to mention that); more importantly, sincere and beautiful camaraderie. During this period, I felt I became physically stronger every single day. The more I felt the strength in my muscles, the more I felt in control of my life. I gained perspective, the ability to interpret my life in a way in which I had never done before. What brings true happiness in life? How does one create a meaningful life? The answer lies in grasping your destiny, by undertaking continuous training, honing your skills and having a clear vision – along with many specific goals, continuously searching for ways to push the boundaries and become a better person. Indeed, the greater the heights, the more beautiful the scenery becomes.
When was the exact moment you fell in love with wine? When you come to work in a winery for a harvest, you will find that after so many moments, you will find yourself becoming attached to the wine like never before; I did. You will never feel the same towards the glass of wine in your hand again. It is a love that will never fade and will accompany you throughout your entire life. In the California sun, whilst continuously washing the bins outside, you may be lucky enough to glimpse a view of the astonishing mountains in the distance, you will feel the power of nature and the power within you, a force that drives you to pursue all the things you want to accomplish, in this moment, for life; maybe it’s the moment when you finally finish one extremely long day of work and you are sharing a bottle of beer (Yes, beer! As we always say, it takes a lot of beer to make a good wine.) with your colleague (friend, to be more precise), and have a tipsy conversation about every aspect of life, feeling the enormous connection to another person; maybe it’s the moment after you have been working on cleaning & sanitising for weeks, and finally the grapes arrive at the winery from the overnight picking crew, there is a genuine sensation of “every effort has paid off”; or the moment of witnessing the fermenting bubbles jumping out of the must from the top of the tank, you know that you are crafting wines in the best way possible; or the time when you changed the dry ice bag for the fermenting tank, the smell the fermenting Chardonnay has, drowning all your sensations with the vivid and mature California pear nose…these are just a few examples. Wine is a living drink. Making wine is to create a living liquid that can bring people joy and happiness. Perhaps the meaning of life lies in creating something that can bring happiness to people. Being a winemaker by profession seems fancy and fashionable, however, in fact, it is a dirty and backbreaking job, but one that can match all the criteria for living a meaningful life.
Vinifera 欧盟葡萄酒硕士一二年的间隙，是我们到酒庄实习的时间。一直有想要去美国加州的想法，可以算是我的“美国梦”。很多“绝境逢生”美国励志的电影伴随我走过了人生中一段很孤注一掷、相对暗淡和孤寂的时光。《从无家可归到哈佛大学》（From Homeless to Harvard）; 《当幸福来敲门》（The Pursuit of Happiness）；《Forrest Gump》等经典影视作品一次次的激励我去战胜自己，实现更高的目标。成功申请到加州索诺玛海岸名庄Flowers Vineyards and Winery做榨期无疑实现了一个内心深处的真挚梦想。
The 3 month-gap between years 1 and year 2 of my Vinifera EuroMaster degree was a time for me to practice winemaking techniques at a winery. The idea of going to the United States had always been in my head; it could have been regarded as my own personal “American dream”. I had been inspired by the multitudes of American movies -their themes often told of those “rising out of desperation”; these accompanied me through a grey and relatively lonely time in my life. From Homeless to Harvard, The Pursuit of Happiness, or Forrest Gump among others, these films accompanied me, constantly inspiring me to become a better version of myself, to achieve great goals in my life. So, with this inspiration at heart, in 2016, I set out, applied, and was taken on as a Cellar Hand at the famous Flowers Vineyards and Winery in the Sonoma Coast, in California. This was indeed a dream come true.
The pain in my muscles was real, especially since I had never really been that physically active, at least since birth anyway. (Gosh, where had I been all these years!?!) I can vividly recall it was a sunny day, we were cleaning the bins with the high-pressure gun, outside the winery. I recall that I felt like I was fighting with the gun, and I was so damn exhausted. It also happened to be a “safety training day” that day, and I happened to notice there were some desserts laid out as decoration, on the meeting table. I didn’t even have the courtesy to evaluate whether it was polite or not to eat all the treats, and to everyone’s amazement (my huge appetite as a relatively small-sized Chinese girl was shocking), I finished all the desserts on the plate near me. Regardless of the circumstances, I felt as if my fuel tank had been recharged, I felt more alive than ever before. That day I mastered the art of using a high-pressure gun and became a professional bin-cleaner! And you know what, people say that you should celebrate the small wins in life- well here’s to me, because it felt pretty good. I acknowledging that I can be the most clumsy girl, therefore, this small victory was definitely something to celebrate!
It is worth mentioning here that when working for a winery, you will find they have their own convictions, strong ones. “They said it couldn’t be done, we did it anyway”. Camp Meeting Ridge and Seaview Ridge Vineyard of Flowers have been planting temperamental grapes (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) in the rugged Sonoma Coast, in harsh environments, for more than 30 years. The vineyard is proximal to the pacific ocean, which provides cool daytime breezes to ensure proper ripening of the grapes, and evening fog to guarantee lively acidity, adding freshness to the finished wines. The well-drained soils allows the estate to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with exceptional complexity, depth, minerality and natural acidity. Each cluster is picked by hand throughout the night and into the early morning, to ensure fruit quality and freshness in the wine. Under the lead of Chief Winemaker Chantal Forthun, they decide to step back and let Mother Nature do what she does best. The winery employs a mix of biodynamic and organic farming practices in the vineyard for healthy soil; there is minimal intervention in the cellar; including using a 100% natural yeast, as well as only using gravity flow (no pump!!!) to transfer the wine; this is how they honour the purity of the fruit, and the beauty of the land.
There are so many stories to tell about my harvest experience at Flowers. This story meant so much to me-this single day was beautiful, therefore, I don’t feel like summarising the whole experience. That is I will continue on in another blog entry, see you there!
Photo Credit: Flowers Vineyards and Winery’s Facebook account