The Harvest is the Party
Just before dawn, the vineyards are cloaked in darkness and fog. You can hear the sounds of animals and feel the cool air, which can be up to 40 degrees less than the high of the day before or the day after. There is very little to see, unless of course the moon is full!
During harvest however, the happy voices of the vineyard crew resonate up and down the rows as they separate bunches of grapes from the vines that have nurtured them. From afar, their headlamps create a strobe effects as they run up the row to dump their grapes into the waiting tractor. Then its ‘all aboard’ to the next block.
There are many reasons why this is our favorite time to pick the grapes:
- 1. Tradition
In Burgundy, where Pinot Noir has been grown for centuries, harvest was typically done in cool weather and the grapes were then brought to cool cellars where they soaked in their own juices, so fermentation began slowly. The Burgundian tradition informs so much of modern Pinot Noir winemaking.
- 2. Quality
Although empirical evidence around cold soaking is limited, all our winemakers have firmly believed that keeping the grapes cool and allowing the pre-fermentation cold soaks results in better aromatics, better color and friendlier tannins.
- 3. Crew Well-Being
All our grapes are harvested by hand, cluster by cluster. Our highly trained crew works expertly and quickly. Individuals are picking, lifting and dumping up to 3,000 pounds of fruit in a single work shift. Every degree increase in temperature add to the physical strain on the staff. Night harvest allows them to work during the coolest part of the day.
- 4. Work Flow
The earlier grapes are at the winery, the earlier the morning crew can sort, de-stem and transfer the grapes to tank to begin the pre-fermentation cold soak. Less electricity is needed.
A phrase often used in the field is “la cosecha es la fiesta” which translates to “the harvest is the party”. And while that is true, it is also “trabajo serio”, serious work, especially at night.