There’s a lot that goes into making wine. From the climate and weather that the vine undergoes all year long to the yeast that is used to ferment the wine and the holding vessel of choice. It can be very stressful all year long with the wine maker and their team. Here is a sneak peak of what goes on behind the scenes from Anderson Valley.
Harvest 2017 was one of the hottest the valley had ever seen. Going from slowly picking white grapes, hauling them to the winery, and making wine to having the ENITRE valley quickly needing to be picked almost overnight. The heat spikes that the valley saw within a couple of days, partially due to the fires, made the red grape varietals became very ripe in terms of brix, a measurement of sugar levels inside a grape. A common “ripe” brix level is 24, most vineyards saw this increase from 23ish to almost 27 within a few days. Normally this happens slowly throughout a couple of weeks to a month.
This put wineries in a very stressful state as they quickly needed to pick their entire vineyard. Having manual labor being sparse within the valley, getting all the grapes off the vines, sorting and destemming once at the vineyard, fermenting as quickly as possible without changing the integrity of the wine, barreling down, cleaning everything, and starting all over again. Talk about STRESS!
Not only worrying about all what is going on in the current harvest, but also keeping up with the previous harvest(s) in the cellar. Checking total acidity (TA), sugar levels, volatile acidity (VA), sulfur levels, etc. Topping off barrels from previous vintage(s) to make sure there is as little air inside the barrels as the “angels” need their share of great wine too! This is just a sneak peek to winemaking.
Ciao A Tutti!
My name is Pepe Fundora and I am a Level 1 Sommelier. This is going to be one of my longest posts due to the history behind what I do what I now love. I have worked in the restaurant business my entire life. I remember my childhood eating Spumoni in the kitchen or office at my parents first restaurant together, Avanti’s Pescevino. When Casa Nuova opened in 1998, my parents started to show me what to have a great work ethic was. From starting as a dishwasher to slowly moving up the ranks of busboy, front waiter, back waiter, and bartender.
I was working all throughout high school and college with my parents teaching me what proper service, hospitality, and being a hard worker was all about. After I graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with an Electrical Engineering degree, I went to go work at an engineering company. This was because at the time I knew what hard work and sacrifice was, but didn’t necessarily want to do that in the restaurant business.
While working at the engineering company, I still came and helped out family at the restaurant. After being laid off in January 2013, I started working at the restaurant full time to try and figure out life. Slowly I was loving the restaurant business again. The satisfaction of having people come in and creating a warm, cozy feeling that you are coming home to family and having a great meal.
Starting to learn the inter workings of cooking and service only intensified that feeling and it was as if the formula that was in front of me was coming together. It was like a drug that I couldn’t resist or say no. Part of that formula was the wine. The experience of wine with food, ambiance, and service is an experience to be had. This is where my engineering aspect kicked into overdrive and the passion of learning about wine and service just CLICKED.
To learn about wine and the story that it entails reminds me of my family’s story and that there are MANY wineries in the world that are many generations of history, culture, and personality. Becoming a sommelier was my only option that made sense. I slowly started interacting with people in the city that have had similar passion for wine. With those interactions, I was able to “nerd” out with something I had not had in a long time. It was a void that was filled and being able to talk about something that is “simple” yet complex very much spoke to the engineer in me. Breaking down and analyzing the wine scientifically and understanding the story is why I became a Sommelier.