The clip-clop of hooves sounded in the 2016 harvest last week.
When field workers at Martha Clara Vineyards began harvesting chardonnay grapes — the first of their 100 acres of vines to be handpicked this season — winemaker and general manager Juan Micieli-Martinez saw a way to incorporate Old World traditions into modern winemaking.
That’s where Martha Clara’s white Percheron horses Billy and Charlie came in.
The Riverhead vineyard is one of many Long Island producers to press its grapes and make its wine at the Mattituck custom crush facility Premium Wine Group. Instead of using trucks to transport the fruit two miles east last Thursday, the grapes were loaded into a wagon and pulled by horses.
“It seemed appropriate that our first grapes were delivered in such a traditional fashion,” Micieli-Martinez said.
Those grapes will be used to make Martha Clara’s 2016 Northville Cremant Blanc Sparkling Wine. Look for a photo of that chardonnay being turned into sparkling wine on the cover of northforker’s fall Wine Press.
Horse-drawn carriages aren’t the only old school winemaking practice at Martha Clara. Guests can also make some wine a la “I Love Lucy” at the annual Chateau La Feet grape stomping party.
The event is set for Sunday, Sept. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $55 for the general public and $45 for wine club members. A glass of wine is included with admission.