At 6:45 on this Wednesday, I arrive at one of Truchard’s beautiful Carneros vineyards where 30 harvesters are hard at work amid the rows of Chardonnay grapes. There is no fog this morning in Carneros and the sun is not over the hillside as yet. It is an ideal temperature for the grapes to be picked and also for the harvesters. The plan is to finish this vineyard by 9:30 a.m. and move on to another nearby vineyard.
About half the harvesters are year-round and long-time employees at Truchard. The others are contracted just for the harvest. For working hard and furiously during the harvest, some of these contracted workers can make up to as much as $200 per day.
The team of harvesters works about four rows at a time, with about 7 to 8 men in each row. When they fill their container they toss it, turning it over and into the half-ton bin. The foreman tosses back the empty container and off the harvester goes to pick another load.
As the bins are filled the tractor driver delivers the bins down below where I later catch owner Tony Truchard joyously loading the bins with his pallet tractor on to the truck to be transported back to the winery. From the expression on Tony Truchard’s face, I get the impression this is going to be a very good harvest. The previous day, I’d tasted the 2007 Chardonnay at the winery. It’s a beautiful Chardonnay, with some acidity and light oak. It is just the way I like Chardonnay. It is a delight to have the opportunity to take photographs of this wonderful event that nature has given us and to know that these grapes will become a wonderful Chardonnay wine.