I participated in my first official harvest at Talley in 1994 (has it been that long?), the year I started here as the Tasting Room Manager in the old adobe. During that harvest we had an afternoon when it started raining and Brian called every employee out to the Rincon Vineyard to help pick some chardonnay so that it wouldn’t rot. I remember starting at the top of a row of vines, well above the ladies vineyard crew, more often cutting my fingers than actually cutting off bunches of grapes, only to be passed up by the crew who managed to finish 30 vines before I even finished my one. A very humbling experience, but a fond memory being part of that first harvest and it gave me a very early appreciation of the expertise of the folks that tend the vines on a daily and yearly basis. That was the same harvest that we had the intern Bridget, from Switzerland, who told us that she “came from a willage of vitches” and that she was a “good vitch”. After spending time with her, I did not doubt her witch skills, as she said she had put an attraction charm on herself and literally everywhere we went, men would just walk up to her and start talking even if she was already talking to another guy. Back then our full time winery crew consisted of me, Brian, Johnine, Steve Rasmussen, Jose Cuevas and Nacho Zarate. Now we are up to about 15 full time staff.
I’ve always enjoyed harvest and try and help out with punch downs whenever I get a chance. It’s an opportunity for me to get away from 8 hours at a computer and do some physical labor, all while helping out the crew who are usually exhausted and tired and consider punch downs like necessary homework. Harvest, for me, is also a way to stamp a memory on the passing of each year, given that we live on the Central Coast and seasons don’t really change. 1994, my first harvest, was the year of rain; 1995 was the harvest I was pregnant with my first child; 2005 was the year we had an abundance of crop and made an ice wine since we had to store chardonnay grapes at Glacier Ice Co. until some tanks became available. The 2010 harvest holds two opposing feeling for me...my deepest sorrow and one of my greatest joys. That was the harvest when my mom passed away after struggling with MS for years and also the harvest of the Giant’s first World Series in San Francisco, something I had waited my whole life to experience
I also mark and remember each harvest by the arrival of the interns. The bright eyed Cal Poly kids doing their required internship or the ones from New Zealand , France or Chile. They arrive energetic and excited and full of romance about “making wine”. They hit the wall about half way through, with lack of sleep and frustration from constantly cleaning bins, before regaining the energy of a job well done when the last load is pressed off and put to bed. The new crop of interns this year are Devon, Ryan and Sandy, and I know I’ll see them go through the same ups and downs as the Jackson’s, Annabell’s and Kelsey’s before them.
I will forever remember this 2013 harvest as the one I sent my first kid off to college. We’ll be taking her to UC Davis in 2 days and hopefully she will find her passion in whatever field she chooses, like I did with wine. At the time of her college graduation, I’ll open a bottle of the 2013 Rosemary’s Pinot and toast to her future. One that I hope will include a job that she can stay at for 20 years plus and look back on with great fondness over the people she’s met and experiences she’s had along the way.