I'm happy to report that Bryan Calandrelli has joined the squad as our Niagara Escarpment correspondent. Of course, Bryan isn't a newcomer to blogs by any means.
Bryan moved to the Niagara Escarpment earlier this year from New York City, where he and his fiancee spent an almost unreasonable amount of time driving back and forth from the East End of Long Island on wine-tasting jaunts. When he doesn't have his nose deep in a wine glass, Bryan is a camera operator/director of photography for network and cable television
And, he's hitting the ground running here on LENNDEVOURS, offering this mini-report from the Escarpment:
With Schulze Vineyards and Winery kicking off the fall harvest with a machine harvested crop of juicy Niagara grapes, my first foray into farm work went straight to my shoulder and neck. My job was to frantically rake grapes from the middle of the bladder press to the edges as owner Martin Schulze pushed them off the harvester. There are only a few seconds between
a full press or an overflow of grapes onto the ground -- and after a fifteen
tons of grapes, it's hard not to feel it. After two days of work and almost 3000 gallons of Niagara pressed (just minutes after picking), the sparkling wine I chugged during the process numbed any long term physical damage I might have brought upon myself.
A few days later, a burning sensation in my lower back signaled the first vinifera grape harvest here on the Niagara Wine Trail. The unusually hot summer of 2007 has worked its magic on several young vines around here, and I went to Freedom Run Winery to help out at its first pinot noir harvest. But the excitement of wearing my barely used work boots and brandishing my own pruning shears was soon melted by record high temperatures in the Niagara Region. Physical discomfort nothwithstanding, the young pinot noir vines were picture perfect, with tight dark clusters of grapes. The only problem was that the vines are very low to the ground and crouching is the method of choice for reaching the clusters. Back pain tends to sneak up on you and I can only compare it to someone running a hot iron down my back. At the same time, Schulze Vineyards and Winery were harvesting their merlot
When I lived in NYC, my iPod went a long way to making any subway ride tolerable, and my naivete convinced me that hard labor in a vineyard would be enjoyable with the right soundtrack. Well...I was wrong. But the growing season here has been awesome thanks to such a warm year, and it's a good feeling to know that my hard work will help produce some memorable wines. In
the meantime, I'm waiting to hear back from a few other wineries to get an update on their harvests, but there's no doubt that things are ramping up -- and you can feel the excitement in the unseasonably warm air.