Photos in Blog Courtesy of Great Bear Vineyards
The leaves are turning and there’s a slight chill in the air — autumn has officially arrived! With it comes one of the best seasons for wine lovers: harvest season. At Great Bear Vineyards in Davis, harvest season is treated with the respect it deserves. After all, it’s the first step in the process of turning the humble wine grape into the product we all know and love.
A recent event at Great Bear Vineyards welcomed guests to participate in the annual grape harvest. Visitors were invited to pluck the fruit from the vine, stomp the grapes, and “punch down” the mixture during fermentation. Afterwards, they enjoyed a farm-to-table lunch and of course, sampled estate-grown wines.
Harvest is one of the busiest times at the winery. The grapes must be harvested at just the right moment to ensure they maintain their flavor. They are hand-picked at night so that they stay cool in order to slow down fermentation.
Located on the northern edge of Davis, Great Bear Vineyards has been a staple of the Yolo County wine scene since 2013, when Marcus and Jenny Meadows-Smith purchased the land to pursue their winemaking dreams. The property — a former homestead dating to the 1860s — is now home to organic vineyards as well as olive trees and lavender.
At just around 10 acres, it’s a relatively small setup, but Great Bear Vineyards manages to turn out a diverse selection of wines. Their reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Primitivo, and Tempranillo, while Albariño, Chardonnay, Roussanne, and Sauvignon Blanc round out the whites. The end results are varietals, blends, rosé, sparkling wines, and dessert wines.
Marcus Meadows-Smith said there’s a bit of “mystique, magic and art” in winemaking. At its heart is growing great grapes using sustainable practices. And the results have paid off — many of their wines have scored between 91-96 points on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale and have won gold and double gold medals at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest and most prestigious in North America.
You can sample these and other great wines at Great Bear Vineyards Thursdays through Sundays. You can bring a picnic or grab a bite to eat when there’s a food truck on site. typically Friday nights. You can also participate in one of the many special events that are held throughout the year, including farm dinners, food pairings, live music, even yoga and salsa lessons. Make your reservation in advance and plan your trip to Great Bear Vineyards in Davis today!