Strength, Resiliency and Good Eats. Commemorating Harvest 2017
The making of a vintage is about far more than picking and pressing grapes. Although mother nature is always front and center, and this was never more true than with the recent wine country wildfires, at its core each vintage is a reflection of the human element. The coalescing of a team, the coming together of a community, the hustle to conquer the unexpected, and the going above and beyond – again and again.
Every year at the end of harvest our entire staff celebrates the culmination of months of hard work with a lunch of rib-eyes and Ceaser salad prepared by our (ever hardworking) winemaking team. You’d better believe there’s wine in the steak sauce. Called the Pressing Lunch, in honor of our last tanks being pressed-off grape skins, it is a time to pause for a moment to savor delicious food and wine with friends – accompanied by many a harvest story.
Gathering for our Pressing Lunch, photo from 2015
This year’s Pressing Lunch is especially meaningful given the wildfires, which began just as our final grapes arrived at our Napa and Alexander Valley wineries. While from a harvest perspective we are thankful that our picking was complete and our wines are unaffected by the fires, we are profoundly grateful that our friends, family and colleagues are safe. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those, including some of our staff, who lost homes or businesses, and those who suffered the great loss of a loved one.
As our community begins rebuilding we have found the spirit of resilience and hope, of people coming together to help those in need, to be overwhelming. It is often in times of hardship that compassion, strength and grit are at their greatest. It has been both humbling and heartwarming to see these qualities enhanced not only within our Silver Oak team, but our entire community and industry.
“Our vineyard, cellar, and winemaking teams remained committed even in the midst of chaos. Not a single day went by in which they weren’t trying to save property, help others, or keep mundane winery operations going. Even as their homes were threatened, families scattered, and futures uncertain. If you see me walking around when the dust settles looking a little bloated, it’s the pride in my chest swelling for what they’ve accomplished.”
– Nate Weis, Director of Winemaking
As we gather for lunch, perhaps what we’re looking forward to the most is the joy and laughter that come with the sharing of tradition. The telling of funny harvest stories. The recognition of our stellar and deeply committed winemaking team, who this year on top of it all crushed our first harvest at our new Alexander Valley winery. The celebration of – despite what mother nature threw at us – a fantastic vintage. And (if we’re lucky) entertaining impromptu staff performances. Our singers (and, um, non-singers) love to put on a show.
It goes without saying that we have many reasons to be thankful. Though it will be another five years until we release our 2017 vintage, this is a year that we will never forget. Beneath the roar of the wildfires is a vintage with, per Director of Winemaking Nate Weis, “ripe flavors, great color, low alcohol, and solid structure.” The wines of 2017 will reflect not only the beauty of this place and the ceaseless dedication of our winemaking team, but also the resiliency and strength of the human spirit.
Life is a (complex, beautiful, rich, and robust) Cabernet.
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