Respect the Basket Press! Ventura County Vineyards October 2021

Respect! Just a little bit!


Gretel with the fruit of her labor — we got super dirty that day!

The last estate grapes to come in at Clos des Amis in 2021 were the first harvest of albarino which Gretel Compton planted and the deer and snails seem to love the most. Gretel and I went up to the vines early in the morning to pick them, and any riesling we could find also; some had “noble rot” which I had never seen before.

With so few buckets of grapes, we chose to use the small basket press which we took turns cranking on to squeeze the juice out of the whole clusters.

I admit I was game for doing more foot stomping (read about our sangiovese foot stomping at Ambyth here) and while Bruce is not a fan of that method, he left it up to us. 

In general, Bruce stood back, advised when necessary, answered questions, and played the dj, taking requests.

After we enjoyed lunch at the picnic table under the pepper tree. Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” got us dancing through the hard work of pressing, cranking it down, fluffing the “cake.”

We pressed about seven gallons of albarino!

the “cake” — what’s left over goes into the orchards

With harvest finished, the grapes pressed off, they’re busy doing their thing, and the vines are taking in their last nutrients before the leaves fall off and they go dormant for the winter. 

When working in the vineyard, be careful not to trip on chunks of limestone at Clos des Amis…

But it’s still busy in the winery! Tasting the wines as they come along, including the albarino, which is fantastic so far! Plenty to do at the winery including bottling now that the glass orders are finally coming in. A weeks or so ago, we bottled the 2020 zinfandel (read about picking it here)and wow is it delicious! More about it for Zinfandel Day coming up in a few weeks. 

And there’s a very special event next Saturday:

A FOTM Fundraising Event with

Bruce Freeman & Gretel Compton

Winemakers/Owners of

Clos des Amis Winery

Saturday, November 6

4 to 5:30 pm

in the garden at the Ojai home of

Kevin & Christine Beirne

Click HERE to Sign Up TODAY!

(Space is limited.)

Absolute RSVP Deadline Monday, November 1

Enjoy three Clos des Amis wines paired with delicious food prepared by Yennyn and Christine Beirne in a beautiful garden setting.  FOTM founder, Donna Granata, will lead an informal talk as we imbibe in food and wine. Participants will learn about Bruce and Gretel’s artistic careers and how they incorporated their creativity towards wine making. Sponsored by Kevin & Christine Beirne

Sorry this is such an abbreviated post but lots going on in the Wine Predator world including Slow Wine Guide deadlines! I actually worked on this post while driving to and from the Dead and Company Halloween Show at the Hollywood Bowl!


Wine Spectator — with Clos des Amis! (not really …)

This is part of a monthly series which I began in January 2019 when I first ventured out to help at Clos des Amis. Read more about Clos des Amis and Ventura County wineries and vineyards in this mostly once a monthly series:


2 thoughts on “Respect the Basket Press! Ventura County Vineyards October 2021

  1. The basket press is no joke! We used an old Italian press for the 1,000lbs of graciano. It was fun! Labor intensive, and muscles needed! I think of our ancestors ratcheting down the cake! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

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