People look forward to autumn for a variety of reasons: football season, kids getting back to school, or the vibrant fall colors. For Washington winemakers and enthusiasts, autumn means one thing above all else: crush. Crush is the busiest, craziest, most exciting time in wine country as grapes are harvested from the vineyard and brought to the winery where the crafting begins. Though Washington grapes are almost all grown east of the Cascades, 78 Washington wineries bring their annual harvest over the mountains to Woodinville for crush.
Crush turns wine country into a synchronized dance of workers, trucks, and machinery as grapes begin the journey from vine to vintage. Every day is a dawn-to-dusk dash to make the most out of the narrow window of opportunity nature provides to produce great wine. There’s little sleep, truckloads of passion, and an extraordinary amount of generosity and cooperation between wineries. Winemakers are competitive, but first and foremost, they’re a community. The shared adversities of crush season turn them into something closer to a family, with wineries loaning one another trucks, presses, labor—whatever’s needed to help a neighbor bring in their grapes and crush the year’s vintage. At Patterson Cellars custom crush pad in the warehouse district, winemaker John Patterson processes grapes for over 20 Woodinville wineries. Visit and see the magic. (pattersoncellars.com for address and hours)
The assortment of wines for which Woodinville and Washington are primarily known—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, to name a few—ferment and age in a variety of vessels and barrels at different temperatures for time periods that range from a few months to several years. But they’re all born during a few incredible weeks known as crush. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness, taste and celebrate this extraordinary genesis of Washington wines right here in Woodinville.