The fall harvest is coming early to the wine country in Augusta, Missouri. Ladue resident Chuck Dressel, owner of Mount Pleasant Estates and his dedicated crew harvested the Rayon d’Or grapes very early in the morning the middle of last week.
This is a labor of love for this winery owner. As the sun rose over the Missouri River Valley, pickers were hard at work harvesting their crop.
“Everything has to go in order, there is no room for mistakes,” said this proud owner.
The sweet golden grapes produce Mount Pleasant’s top selling sparkling wine, Brut Imperial.
An automatic grape harvester is pressed into service to sweep the grapes off the vines. Grapes are delicate, but the machine handles them gently. Once a truck load of grapes is harvested, they are driven immediately to the pressing area.
That is where the grapes are pressed and turned into grape juice. Mount Pleasant uses state-of-the-art equipment to crush the grapes.The machine extracts stems, sunburned grapes and other unwanted items and then churns fresh grape juice. The fresh unpasteurized grape juice is white and somewhat milky, but will be turned into some of the best grape juice ever bottled.
Then the grape juice is ready to ferment in giant steel tanks. The length of fermentation depends on the type of wine being produced. The Rayon d’ Or grapes will be turned into champagne and Villagio by March, 2013.
“This has been an ideal grape growing season,” said Dressel. “Due to the extended spring,warm summer days and cool summer nights, Missouri had one of its best growing seasons in history.”
Writer/photographer Cassidy Cleveland hiked all over the property in the early morning to capture these dramatic photographs.