Harvest at Ripepi Winery

Rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Ripepi Vineyard

Rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Ripepi Vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

     When Rich Ripepi, owner and winemaker of Ripepi Winery and Vineyard in Monongahela, Pa invited us to take part in the harvest at his vineyard we gladly accepted.  It was a beautiful early fall day as we walked from the winery to the rows of Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the adjacent vineyard.  We picked up our clippers from the tool bucket, located a section of unharvested vines by the empty bins laid out beneath them and went to work.  It wasn’t too long before Rich came by and his excitement about this years harvest was written all over his face.  He talked in glowing terms about how well the grapes had ripened during the month of September because of the warm weather and plentiful sunshine from the nearly cloudless skies.  I asked Rich how he determined when it was time to pick and he told me he uses all the traditional methods like Brix (these berries were 23), acidity and other factors but what it really all comes down to is if he tastes the grapes and they taste ripe to him then it is time to pick.  After a very wet summer which called for a more robust spraying program and more cultivation than normal there was an amazing turn of events that lead to this being one of the best harvest ever.  We took a break and walked with Rich to the winery where the pressing of the Traminette grapes which were picked earlier that day was nearing completion.  After being destemed the grapes were mixed with rice husks to make it easier to press out the juice.  Rich grabbed a glass and said “Do you want to taste it?” as he fills it with the freshly press juice that flows from the press, it was sweet and full of flavor.  While walking back to the vineyard to finish picking, Rich relates the most interesting stories about his evolving journey as a winemaker which makes the time pass quickly as we strip the last vines of their fruit.  We would like to say “Thank You” to Rich Ripepi for inviting us to share this experience with him and his family.  More information about the Ripepi Winery and their award-winning wines can be found at www.Ripepiwine.com