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Iris Vineyards

November 2, 2012

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This is what my life has looked like for the past three weeks.

Just before leaving for GK12 last month, I was presented with an amazing opportunity to be a lab intern for the fall harvest at Iris Vineyards in Cottage Grove.  I couldn’t pass this up, so as soon as I returned from Umatilla I started work at the winery.

My job there was to test all the fermenting grapes for temperature and sugar content of the juice each day.  It started out slow, but quickly picked up as more and more grapes were ready to harvest.

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Iris prides itself in its “small lots” of wine, which meant that there were a lot (ha, that wasn’t even intentional!) of grapes to test!  At the peak, I was working 8-5:30 or 6 with only a quick lunch break just to get them all done.  I was amazed that one task took all day!

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Occasionally I would do more elaborate testing on the new batches (pH, acid content) and monitor the SO2 levels in last year’s wines.  That was my favorite thing to do (one day, all I did was SO2 analysis) because I got to sample directly from the barrels and taste the leftovers!  Most were still too young, but it was fun to smell/taste the differences.  It was also a fun test because of the color changes involved.CIMG1798

Sometimes I had to test the grapes themselves to see if they were ready to harvest.  I had to crush them up in a bag to get juice…CIMG1793

and then filter the seeds out.CIMG1795

I caught this little ant crawling on the pH meter the other day:CIMG1825

Usually I don’t have to deal with ants and fruit flies in the chem lab!

This was a really great way to get exposed to winery work.  At such a small winery, I got to be more involved in cellar operations (adding yeast etc) so I got to see exactly what it takes to make wine.  I still don’t know if I’m going to try to make this a career, but it was definitely a worthwhile experience.

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