The Pinot Noir grapes are dark, the Chardonnay is golden, the canes lignifying throughout, and there is a grumble coming from the production staff. This could only mean one thing: harvest is coming. Harvest is a time we all love and hate. It is hard work, it is complete chaos, and it’s possibly the most rewarding part of the year.
In the cellar, all harvest specific pieces of equipment are coming out of a 9 month hibernation. Cellarmaster Nacho Zarate will begin by moving the fermenters and harvest bins out of the storage barn. He will likely be driving the forklift without a shirt and will definitely be complaining about the vineyard equipment in his way. One of the first tasks for the newly hired harvest interns is to clean this equipment. On day one they will get badly sunburned and on day two they will wear sunscreen and a big hat. The interns will also start learning about harvest by listening to the veteran production crew’s complaints of “having no life” and “not getting enough sleep” in the coming days. Seriously, that is all they talk about…
In the vineyard, it is the calm before the storm. The crew is wrapping up viticultural practices like tucking vines, bird nets, and dropping fruit that is ripening slower than the rest. Our equipment is being serviced and we’re ordering the rented lights that will illuminate night picks. It is also time to ready FYBs, the yellow buckets that we pick into. They are such bright yellow they seem to taunt us, screaming “Harvest is coming!” Because of this, everyone hates the FYB’s, so while I will refrain from explaining the entire acronym in this classy, family-oriented blog, you can probably guess what it stands for.
As the work continues, the production and vineyard teams’ preparation begins to overlap more and more, and there are regular discussions between the winemaker and vineyard manager. The interns are sent to collect grape clusters that will show us the sugar content, cluster weight, pH, and acids of the fruit and we all come together to analyze the results. Our harvest anticipation builds and bets are made about what will be picked first until Brian Talley and Winemaker Eric Johnson give the final “GO!” and harvest begins!