On display at Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery are twelve wood carvings – one for each month of the year – each depicting an important part of the winemaking lifecycle. We’re diving into each month and where winemakers have traditionally kept their focus during that time in our editorial series, The Vintner’s Calendar.
Sebastiani’s Vintner’s Calendar wood carving for August illustrates the process of preparing vats.
In winemaking, a vat is any type of vessel used to hold processed wine grapes before they go into the bottle. Sebastiani’s tasting room contains some large and historic wooden vats dating back to some of their earliest years prior to the Prohibition era. The largest vat being 59,600 gallons is one of two purchased by August Sebastiani in 1950 from the Christian Brothers’ Winery in St. Helena. It was taken apart for transport and reassembled at the winery in Sonoma. Without nails and glue, it was held together by the steel bands surrounding the wine expanding staves. Today, the second vat is recycled into our beautiful redwood ceiling.
The twelve wooden carvings used in The Vintner’s Calendar series are currently attached to one of these vats and are on display at Sebastiani. A portion of it is visible in the background of the image used in this article.
Given that most winemaking equipment is used for only a few weeks a year, most of it sits idle. And so in August each year, preparation is under way to ensure the “crush pad”, multiple fermentation tanks, clamps, and hoses are clean, and in proper working condition. And a general buzz of excitement around the winery begins to take place as harvest approaches.