What began on the third day of August, finished up this last weekend on the first day of October. Two straight months of sleep deprivation, hard work, and compromised immune systems ended as we picked our last blocks of grapes. Some refer to this season as “vintage”, but we’re a farm-centric vineyard and winery, and we refer to it as HARVEST. Harvest is the culmination of all the work and input we’ve brought into our vineyards from the previous year. It’s hard as hell and can be quite frustrating when Mother Nature throws you a curve ball, but it’s also pretty freaking awesome to see the fruits of your labor. No pun intended, because I think that saying was meant for this kind of thing.
For the majority of our harvest, we had perfect weather conditions. Clear, cool night starts at 2am would get us on our way. At around 4 in the morning, the marine layer would come in and keep the fruit and pickers cool into the early daytime. With a lot of help from winemaker Eric Johnson, we were able to have a good heads up on picks and get in those blocks to pick the fruit just right. Everything was going just great, and then we got a 4 day heat wave at the end of September. This heat wave suddenly made blocks that we thought would be ready in a week, ready to be picked immediately. We scrambled, we huddled, we got a plan, and we picked nonstop. The fruit came in and we were done.
To anyone in the wine world, you’ve probably noticed a great deal of hype around harvest. That hype is no joke. For grape growers and winemakers, picking the grapes at the right time is crucial and can be close to impossible at times. However, you find a way to get it done. You dig in and work beyond what you normally think is possible. Sometimes, it means running down to the local coffee shop and buying coffee for 36 pickers to keep them going and 6 dozen donuts to show them our appreciation. I personally go through a box of 5-hour energy that’s supplemented with a lot of Emergen-C.
Now that we’re done, it’s our time to button up the vineyard but more importantly show our appreciation for the people who make up my vineyard team. We have our own taquero at Talley Farms, Juan Rico, who will make unlimited tacos for our crew, production team, and winery staff. It’s a great day for everyone to meet up, play soccer, eat, and enjoy the end of another successful season.