Pinot Noir Harvest 2015: Winemaker Andrew Delos on Harvest Philosophy, Bottling While Picking, and PlayList Wars
by EnRoute on August 26, 2015
“There’s nothing like listening to a little Rush while bottling, receiving fruit – and glass, simultaneously! – sorting, crushing, doing additions, sampling vineyards, and all with a team of seven people, total. I love this stuff!”
“And the bottling line just broke!”
–Andrew Delos, EnRoute Winemaker
Harvest 2015 has started early in Russian River Valley and it started at full throttle: on Friday, August 14, we brought in our first Russian River Pinot Noir of the season–a full seven days ahead of last year’s harvest–and as of Monday, we’ve been both harvesting the 2015 fruit and bottling our 2014 “Les Pommiers” Pinot Noir! Bottling and harvest are each big projects (to say the least) and having them happen at once is a bit like riding a bike while spinning plates.
When we talked with Andrew on the first day of harvest, and just moments before bottling began, he became philosophical for a moment. “If you think about it, you only get to do [harvest] 50 or so times, and that’s if you’re lucky. This is our eighth harvest. Each year, we learn steps to make it better. Our new single-vineyard project energizes [Assistant Winemaker] Gordon and me, and it adds a layer to harvest which engages us intellectually.”
Andrew has been with EnRoute from the start, making each vintage since the first in 2007. But when he began his university studies, he hadn’t planned on winemaking. He headed off to UC Santa Barbara to become a marine biologist. The school wasn’t a good fit and Andrew escaped to Oregon and a business and economics degree. He happened to pick up a UC Davis course catalog and the enology and viticulture program jumped out at him. “I related to the food and wine culture because I grew up in it,” says Andrew, whose family is in the restaurant business.
One of the most highly anticipated aspects of EnRoute harvests are the Playlist Wars. “It’s all about the music,” he says. “Music makes harvest even more fun.” Each team member has particular music taste so when his/her music comes on, and as harvest intensity ratchets up, the jibes over song choice get better and better. “Kamyn likes popular music. J.P. has been on a real Aerosmith kick. Wham! was on earlier,” he laughs.
Andrew loves the distinct personalities that comprise the small, dedicated EnRoute team. Each year we hire harvest interns to join our core staff. It’s an opportunity for people passionate about wine, viticulture, and/or the beverage industry to get their hands dirty, learn a lot, and have fun–and it’s an opportunity for us to work with some great people!
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we highlight individual team members. Cheers to another vintage, to another year working to make the Best Pinot Noir possible, and to our small-but-mighty EnRoute team!