CALDWELL — At 20 years old most people don’t have a clue what they want to do in five years, let alone the patience to plan that far ahead.
For Sydney Nederend, 23, the patience is paying off.
On Monday, Nederend began her first ever harvest of the nine acres of Malbec grapes she planted three years ago.
“It’s sort of my own way of having an imprint in agriculture,” Nederend said.
Nederend’s company, Scoria, was named after the sandy soil and large volcanic rock that sits on a parcel of the 250-acre property, which her family has owned nearly a century. The property sits just west of of Lake Lowell on Riverside Road in Caldwell.
According to Nederend, the sandy soil and large rocks in the area do well for the grapes because they allow for better drainage.
“Growers in Washington say the land increases in value the more rocks it has,” Nederend said jokingly.
With a 10-person crew, Nederend said she was able to harvest more than nine tons of grapes the last two days.
The complete process from planting to harvest cost more than $10,000 an acre, with more than 1,000 plants per acre.
The grapes will travel to Koenig Vineyards where they will be de-stemmed and left to ferment with their peels still on. Leaving the peel on a grape helps retain its red color because the juice of a grape is naturally clear.
“It feels so good,” Nederend said. “It’s so rewarding seeing fruit in the bins and seeing it go through the process of wine making ... it’s exactly what I’m meant to be doing in life.”
After the first batch of grapes finished the crushing process, Greg Koenig, of Koenig Vineyards, said the grapes came out just about perfect.
“They’re doing a good job up there,” Koenig said. “It’s been a long time since anyone planted any new grapes, especially malbec (in the area) … so we’re excited to see how it turns out.”
According to Koenig, grapes are measured based on their sugar to acid ratio.
Usually what a grower aims for is a 24 to 25 percent sugar content and a PH of of 3-4. Koenig said the grapes from this harvest hit those numbers perfectly.
“Sometimes it’s hard for a new vineyard to figure out what the cost load is and how to farm it properly so you get the proper numbers, but it looks like they got it right the first time,” Koenig said.
The wait isn’t over for Nederend, however.
Before she can taste the wine that this year’s grapes have produced, Nederend must allow the grapes to ferment for nearly two years.
Until then, she plans to start her label using fruit from a local company, Sawtooth Winery.
Sean Bunce is the digital first reporter for the Idaho Press-Tribune. He can be reached at 208-467-9251 ext. 172