Winemaking: What is Crush?

by Guest Blogger, Christopher Doran, Winemaker and owner of J Doran Vineyards

People often ask what “Crush” is.  In it’s simplest terms, Crush is the period of time when the grapes are harvested, and are then “Crushed” (hence the name) in the process of making wine. Crush runs from late August till November, sometimes extending further due to weather.  But crush is much, much more….


An interesting part of wine making is that you only get one shot at it each year. You have to wait an entire year before trying again. And you are guaranteed that the following year will be different than the one before. Think about this for a moment…. It’s often been said that to truly become a master at something a person needs to devote 10,000 hours in the practice. to be a great musician, artist, athlete , scientist , you name it, it takes thousands of hours to reach the peak of your craft. That translates into about 416 days, or well over a year. Now, imagine wine making, where in essence, you cram this kind of time into 4 month segments. 16 hour days all run together as you are at the mercy of nature as she decides when the grapes are ready to go. At this rate, it takes a winemaker at least 5 years to really hit their groove. Think if an athlete could only practice their craft for a few months and then had to wait the remainder of the year before doing so again. This is the unique place that winemakers find themselves in. So it begs the question… How do you deal with it?


Time is only one aspect of crush. Preparation is a crucial a second element. Going in with a plan, a concept of what to do & how you want to do it is important because once the wine making process starts, it waits for no one. You can’t say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. You go when the fermentation process says to. With this said, you need to maintain an ability to be flexible, to adapt to a change in plan or conditions. The ability to plan, yet remain flexible is critical because there will certainly be events and conditions that arise which you did not foresee and you will have to deal with which brings you to one of the game changing portions of crush….


Crush works only based upon the efforts of a wide range of people being able to collaborate together. As much as some would have you think it is all about the winemaker, the winemaker in fact is only as good as the people that they are surrounded by. A tremendous plan & effort can go awry if the cellar team can’t execute, the harvest team doesn’t pick correctly, the lab team has inaccurate results.. we are all inter connected. Here’s what I’ve learned…. The wine maker is like the conductor. you lead the orchestra. They follow your tune… If you are harsh, it shows up in your wine. with 14 hour days, everyone is tired. a bad choice can be catastrophic. when y

ou run a good crew that is all watching each other’s backs & feel comfortable to say what they see you know that you’ll come up with great results. which leads us to …..


Passion…. that is what crush is. It’s the belief in the future. Why would you make something you won’t know how it turns out till 2 years from now? Passion… you pour everything into this… but you must await the results….Passion….. all the effort to bring this amazing creation to your glass……. ultimately … it is simple…… it is about Passion.

We at J Doran Vineyards are all about passion. It is what drives us, creates focus & defines us. It is the journey we have chosen & embraced. It is our joy to share it with you.

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