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Crush Camp 2010

October 13, 2010

Its funny how the Universe operates sometimes.

Over the past ten or twelve years I’ve made a number of trips up to the Finger Lakes to visit the area’s wineries. I’d gotten to know the lay of the land, more or less, and had a list of wineries I knew were good. The area is constantly evolving, however, and generally in positive ways. Given my burgeoning interest in wines I’d recently became a regular reader of a number of blogs, one of which is the New York Cork Report which concentrates on the Finger Lakes and Long Island. With a trip planned for September I figured, why not reach out to Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor of the blog, and see if there were any interesting happenings in the Finger Lakes on the days we’d be there. Lenn graciously wrote back and recommended a visit to a relatively new winery on the north-east corner of Cayuga Lake, Heart and Hands. Its out of the way but well worth the trip, he said.

So I checked them out, or at least their website, and was excited to discover they offered a chance to come up and participate in a little segment of their harvest, four days from September 30th through October 3rd, called Crush Camp. Now, granted, this story is stepping back in time to before the true formulation of Twenty Months, but it played an integral role in its inspiration. I took the days off from work and signed up for the long weekend.

Tom and his wife Susan bought a few acres of land which they planted with pinot noir, built a structure to accommodate a tasting room, a barrel room cut into the slope, and a couple of flat areas to do the required grunt work. We Crush Campers got to join them for a few days sorting tons (literally) of grapes, stomping, inoculating, punching down, measuring temperature, brix, and acidity, monitoring fermentations in progress and really just experiencing a few days in the life of a small artisanal winery. Most valuable of all was the ability to quiz Tom and learn as much as possible about how he educated himself and got started.

It was incredibly motivating, helped to further confirm my interests, and truly made the whole concept of Twenty Months seem attainable. Not just a plan or a dream – here was someone with passion, drive, and a good idea who got a loan and is making it work while making some excellent wine.

I’m grateful for these little opportunities that spring up when you’re barely looking and for the people out there willing to share their passion and knowledge with others. I’ll return the favor someday.

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