Son of Road Trip: the Cabernet

Cabernet in the sunJust a little after 6am, Whit and I unlocked the Flexcar truck, stowed tarps and tie-downs in the back, and headed east through foggy, deserted streets. The chill was penetrating, but in that autumnal way that betrays a certain lack of conviction: soon enough, it would dissolve into a warm, Indian summer day.

A few miles past Hood River, the sun began to slice through the mist and dispel it back up into the hills, lifting a cascade of blue-monochrome buttes into view down the Gorge. By the time we crossed the Columbia and pointed north, the sun had cleared the way for a perfect grape run into the Yakima valley.

The grower had already picked a few thousand pounds for us and another guy who arrived just moments later. My spot test with the refractometer, trying to pick a random assortment of berries, pegged the sugar somewhere between 23 and 27 – pretty ripe at the upper register, maybe just shy of ripe at the bottom. Any harvest short of Château d’Yquem‘s berry-by-berry picking regimen will have this kind of variation: you just hope the spread is relatively tight and the average is where you want to be. So if this really netted us 25 brix, we wouldn’t complain.
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