Crush at EFESTE Winery

Volunteers sorting  Cabernet at Efeste

Volunteers sorting Cabernet at Efeste

As the leaves start to change color and the days rapidly shorten, grape growers across Washington State are harvesting this years grapes for, what promises, to provide a spectacular vintage.  EFESTE Winery put out a call for volunteers to help with their crush, or to be more specific, help sort out the stems and leaves that would adversely effect the flavor of their wines.  As I am interested in all aspects of wine, I signed up to experience the joys of crush.

There was only one downside.  I work Swing shift which means I usually do not get up before nine A.M.  For one of the few times in a year I had to set my alarm and had to get up at six.  After a few cups of coffee I was off to start my crush shift at 7:45.  The EFESTE staff and other crush volunteers were upbeat and after gloving up and given a few instructions we went to our stations for crush.  The process involves sorting the leaves and debris before the grapes go into the hopper.  The hopper does a great job of separating the fruit from the stems.   The next step involves removing as much of the stems, or jacks (as many of them look like a child’s toy jack) from the fruit.  It is important to remove the jacks as too many would have an adverse effect on the finished wine.

Crush was a nice change from my lab job.  Volunteers are on their feet the whole time and there is a lot of twisting and tossing .  It was great core exercise and although I was a little sore at the time, I felt great the next day.   One person got dizzy from looking at the conveyor belt and had to relocate to primary sorting.  Other than that there were no issues.  Good conversation and 70/80s music made the time go by fast.  I got to meet the wine maker, Peter Devison, as well as other EFESTE staff members, all of whom maintained an upbeat attitude after an extensive and busy crush season.

Volunteer Rewards

The reward offered for volunteering was a fantastic lunch prepared by Daniel and Helen Ferrelli, two of the owners of EFESTE.  The lunch consisted of delicious braised brisket, an amazing pear, candied nut, Gorgonzola and greens salad, golden mashed potatoes saturated in butter and a selection of good breads.

We worked for perhaps an hour after lunch and then Daniel opened up two of their 2011 Syrahs.  The first was the 2011 Ceidleigh from Red Mountain.  Fantastic pepper notes and blackberry that would have been a great pairing with the brisket.  The 2011 Jolie Bouche from Dick Bouche’s vineyards was fantastic.  It was incredibly smooth, especially for a 2011 Washington red wine.  Generally I like to pair Syrahs but this would have been great just by itself.  A wonderful wine.  EFESTE also gave us a 2014 crush shirt that was as comfortable as long-worn, favorite shirt.

This experience gave one an appreciation for the hard work that goes into the finished product. Sorting for crush was a little more effort then bottling but much easier than netting and thinning the vines that I did a month a go.

*Full Disclosure: Nancy, one of our blog writers works at EFESTE