Inspired by the vineyards of Hermitage, Priorat, and Cote Rotie, we challenged existing viticulture practices and embarked on an ambitious plan to pioneer the very first vineyard on the steep, upper slopes of Red Mountain.
Due to the rough, rocky nature of the acreage and elevations ranging from 960 to 1,230 feet, mechanization is virtually impossible in the higher portion of Force Majeure, requiring true "farming by hand." This extreme viticulture has led some blocks to receive the nicknames El Terror and The Devil's Playground.
|Our base camp in the middle of the hill.|
|Not that devilish, if you ask me. More heavenly, actually.|
The actual picking of the grapes was performed by local workers, but a crew of approximately 30 volunteers of varying age and composition was gathered to assist by carrying the full crates and dumping their content into larger trays, as well as sorting out leaves, bugs and other unwanted material. I did both chores but spent most of my time as a "runner", i.e. carrying boxes with grapes up and down the steep hill. A good workout!
Before setting off we were warned about both rattlesnakes and scorpions, not to mention the black widows that were supposedly "all over the place". Although I saw a whole lot of spiderweb, I was almost a bit disappointed by not seeing any actual spiders... Maybe next year?
|A happy runner.|
|Hello, I'm Syrah!|
All in all, we had a lot of fun together, and after about three hours of hard work in the scorching sun we got back in the car, sweaty and dusty, to head back towards Seattle. (Our rural apperance did not stop us from taking a short break for some quick wine tasting on the way home, however.)
|A snapshot of the landscape we passed on the way back from Red Mountain. The smoke in the background comes from forest fires, which have been troublesome all summer long because of the draught. Still no rain!|
The terrain in the state of Washington has really impressed me with its beauty, and I feel mighty lucky to already have been able to see so much of its versatility. And yet there is so much left to explore.