Gray Fox Vineyards harvest nears completion – Chico Enterprise-Record

OROVILLE — Top to bottom, rows of carefully planted, fruit-bearing lush vines at Gray Fox Vineyards moved swiftly in 100-degree heat, under smoky skies with one goal: to finish this year’s harvest.

“It looks great,” vineyard co-owner Jeanne Cecchi said of the harvest. “We have watered less this year and that has really helped. The chemistry – ph, sugar – in grapes is good, really good.

Harvesting at the boutique vineyard began on August 7th and last weekend’s work was to complete the picking and have the fruit crushed from the vineyard and put into the 500 gallon stainless steel tubs for the first cycle. of fermentation.

  • Luis Juarez (foreground) and Ruben Enriquez operate the machine that crushes and removes the stems from grapes at Gray Fox Winery, Saturday (Kyra Gottesman)

  • Once the red grapes are crushed, they go into a 500 gallon stainless steel tank for the first fermentation. (Kyra Gottesman)

  • Ruben Enriquez empties a load of Barbera grapes into the machine which crushes and removes the steps of the fruit in preparation for the first fermentation. (Kyra Gottesman)

  • Gray Fox Winery owner Gary Cecchi takes a break from the weekend harvest and crashes to visit customers in the tasting room (Kyra Gottesman – Mercury-Register)

  • Jose Jarez harvested Barbera grapes at Gray Fox Winery over the weekend. (Kyra Gottesman)

  • Each year during harvest at Gray Fox Winery, some of the wine grapes are set aside so that guests can taste the fresh fruit from which the wine is made. On Saturday, Jenna Chadwick, bartender, prepared bowls of fresh Sangiovese and Barbera grapes (Kyra Gottesman — Mercury-Register)

  • The Gray Fox Vineyards team was busy wrapping up this year’s harvest over the weekend. (Kyra Gottesman)

“Once the grapes go through the crusher, a destemming machine, they go into the vat. Red grapes go with their skins for color. After the fermentation in the tank, which lasts around a week to 10 days depending on the case, everything will go through the press and then return to the tank for the first stage of ageing”, explains Cecchi.

The wine aging process takes place in three stages. The first is in the vats then it is put in barrels and finally in bottles.

“It ages differently in each container,” Cecchi said.

At the six-acre vineyard, located in the lower foothills of Oroville at 90 Gray Fox Lane just off Mt Ida Road, Cecchi and her husband, Gary, grow grapes for nine varietals including Sangiovese, Syrah, Barbera, Grenache, Mouvedre, Dolcetto, Muscat and Viognier.

The first vines were planted in 1996 and the estate harvested its first harvest in 2000.

“When we bought bare land in 1996 with the intention of growing grapes and making wine, we never imagined that these foothills would eventually grow to the point that an annual wine route event would evolve. and that more vineyards and wineries would be established and participate. It’s really great,” Cecchi said, referring to the many small wineries that have opened in the area over the past 20 years and the annual North Sierra Wine Trail event that takes place every spring.

In 2002, the Cecchi’s expanded their offering by adding port-style wines, including three reds – Port Zinfandel, Port Cabernet and Port Syrah – as well as Moscato Dolce, a white port.

“Ports became much more popular with customers than expected, which was good. They are higher in alcohol than wines, around 20% versus around 14%,” Cecchi said.

The vineyard is located on a gently sloping hillside. The large and well-proportioned tasting room sits at the top of the slope facing west. From its wall of windows or the outdoor patio, guests enjoy sweeping views of the valley and the Sutter Butte mountain range. There is also a large picnic area shaded by oak trees to the north of the tasting room. The cellar is located directly behind the tasting room on the east side.

“There are plenty of places for people to sit, sip and relax. Everyone is welcome to bring a picnic or snack with them to enjoy with their wine,” Cecchi said.

Gray Fox Winery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, visit

This article has been updated to correct an error that Gray Fox Winery was Oroville’s first winery. The Ghianda winery, created in 1935, was probably the first, but it is no longer in operation. Photo captions that incorrectly identified people have also been corrected.

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