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It's Harvest Time For Sommeliers

I've written before on the trend of sommeliers getting out of their suits and donning grubby clothes better suited for the messy business of picking, crushing and fermenting grapes.

Notable locals who are making their own wines: John Lancaster and Rob Perkins of Boulevard (who make Skylark), Emmanuel Kemiji, wine buyer for Piperade and La Mar (who makes a wine called Miura) and Andrew Green of Spruce and the Village Pub (who makes Oregon Pinot Noir for thoseĀ  restaurants).

In the spirit of harvest, I went down to Santa Barbara county with Raj Parr (RN74) and Mark Bright (Saison) to help sort Syrah grapes forĀ  Parr selections, Raj's personal brand (which is on sale in restaurants throughout SF and New York). What can I report? The grapes were in unbelievable condition (coming from Beckmen Vineyards' Purisima Mountain, maybe the greatest Syrah vineyard in the state). The wine looks like it will be very good. Raj is obsessive about early harvesting and low alcohol (a good thing) and spends half his time on the phone to the greatest winemakers of Burgundy, getting tips.

If you've never checked out a winery during harvest before, it's a great experience and full of infectious energy. Crushpad is running periodical classes as the grapes come in, and is a great place to start your journey.