A Day in the Life of Harvest - Part 1: Before Midday
5:30 AM - up to sample as dawn breaks. While getting motivated to get out of bed is an epic effort, once on the road the moments before sunrise are a calming start to what can turn into one hell of a day. Coffee may or may not be an added accompaniment depending upon how long it is before I see civilization again. Food? Definitely not this early and not before scaling vineyards with Himalayan-like slopes.
6:00 or 7:00 AM - depending on how far I have to go (an hour away to sample is not unordinary), my boots hit the dirt with a pair of clippers in one hand, a one-gallon, freezer-grade zip-lock in the other (yes, it does matter that its FREEZER grade) and my eyes set on seeking that which is golden or deep dark in color. I can usually sample a vineyard section in about 10-20 minutes on foot. One does tend to become an expert in vineyard layouts (at least in one's own mind) and tends to critique the architect of the vineyard one is standing in when the feet and legs start to swell either due to incline or row distance. Lots of "WTF were they thinking" moments here.
9:00AM - no matter what the temperature, sampling is cut off for the rest of the day. This is not to say that one can't sample after 9 or that samples are not representative after that time. It's just that 3 hours of crushing, testing and perusing sample results gives you the time you may need to pull the trigger and piss a grower off by asking them to pick tomorrow. A high-fiber cereal bar is a good bracer for that moment or, if one is lucky, a breakfast chorizo burrito from one of the many great local purveyors (including my wife).
10:00AM to Noon - gone are the hours of the day that are focused on one task only. Now, multitasking kicks in. Receiving, sorting, de-stemming, pressing, tank filling, additions, cold soaking, fermenting punch down, pigeage, barrel filling and pressing again. Forklifts start moving not too much unlike elephants in tutus. Being a winemaker is tasking enough, but add in being n business owner and you add all the constant, year-round actions of the wine world on top of all this. Running a business does not stop for harvest. Oh yeah, and you have to watch out for those forklifts too.
Next Post: Lunch at 4PM anyone?!?