img_2631On Friday morning June drove up Hwy 128 past Cloverdale to the last little patch of Sonoma County before Mendocino which is where our very own Mike Pendleton plies his trade. “I parked, Mike picked me up in his 4-wheeler and we zipped up into the vineyard to taste some grapes,” said June, “Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot,–they were all pretty sweet which means the brix is almost high enough for harvest. It was cool to distinguish the varietal differences right off the vine.”

“Then we went and looked at Mike’s new barrel room and I got to img_2634“punch down” the ’16 Petite Sirah.” Punching down is the process by which winemakers push the thick layers of “must” (mostly grape skins) that float up to the surface of the bin, back into the fermenting wine to maximize extraction. “The skins are where all the flavor comes from” said June, “It was fun but hard, physical work, and I felt I wasn’t tall enough to get good leverage. The best part is that smell, though, the fresh smell of harvest in the winery—it’s where it all comes together and it’s what Wine Country is all about!”