CRUSH – I miss the days when “crush” was a word used to describe the acutely painful unrequited infatuations or teenage puppy-love of days gone by. Alas, now Crush is a word with a capital “C”, no longer an innocuous descriptor of deep sentiment, but the pinnacle of a winemaker’s year. Crush refers to the breaking up of grape berries to create must (juice, skins and seeds), but it encompasses all of the harvest activities. It also has a particular sense of time…Late September through early November. Winemakers trade in their flip-flops for rubber soled boots and waterproof clothes. Alarm clocks start our 20 hour work days in relentless shrill beeps, reminding us of forklift warning chimes resonating in our heads from just a few hours before. Purple eye circles and slumped shoulders are the signs of the haggard winery worker during crush, along side a muted excitement. Each time I pick up fruit, I muse and plot the entire ride home, while munching the berries with deliberate focus. What should I do with this varietal? What does this fruit want to be? We can have a plan, but the grapes tell us who they are in the end. A bin full of fruit on the crush pad is like a new set of paints or a blank notebook and a freshly sharpened pencil; artistic promise.