Harvest is art, science, faith, hope, hard work, intuition, luck and magic all at the same time! It begins at midnight or 2:00 a.m. when Jason and his highly skilled team set into the vineyards with their headlamps and move expertly between the rows with a sense of joy and purpose that will surely be imbued in the wine that the grapes they pick will become. They know they have to get the fruit to the winery by dawn, before the sun begins to warm their pick and slows their pace.
This cohesive group knows exactly what they should do. They have tended each of these vines all year, nurtured the best clusters and dropped all the fruit that is less than perfect. As they run with their bandejas to the tractor, they are executing pick decisions that Shane has made after walking these rows day after day watching, tasting, thinking. This is boots on the ground farming and winemaking. While harvesting the sunny side of our Rued clone (Chardonnay), our top three harvesters reached their peak with Alfonso hitting a high of 959 lbs per hour and Jaime and Elias close behind with 885 lbs per hour. For Pinot Noir we brought in 20 tons on our highest volume day, averaging 2 tons per hour.
As the sun begins to break through the fog, the forklift brings the bins of grapes to the crush pad where they are sorted, de-stemmed and put into the tanks for the cold soak and fermentation. Shane and Pete are everywhere at once managing the activities up here as well as two levels below in the winery. Here, the lab is busy testing samples, the barrels wait to be filled, and the previous vintage witnesses a journey that is beginning as it readies itself for bottling. Despite the myriad of activities, it is calm as everyone works together with the quiet confidence of a team that has faith in the expertise and preparation of its leaders.
Harvest is gratitude for the gifts of nature in the fruit of the vines and the talent and spirit of our people. Harvest is love of the land and commitment to the journey of the grape. Harvest is sacrifice as spouses feed the children and put them to bed or wake them up and drive them to school. Harvest is art of the soul and spirit and body and mind.