Toasting and drinking sparkling wine is synonymous with celebrations. When Mumm Napa celebrates the Harvest, they do so in a most unusual manner. Friday, August 14, 2009 was the first official day of harvest for Mumm and when the first grapes arrive at the Mumm crushpad it’s cause for a jubilant celebration for all employees.
At 6.am that morning the harvest crew began picking Pinot Noir grapes at the Game Farm Vineyards in Oakville. The harvesters fill small yellow bins repeatedly with amazing speed and by 9:30 am the first truck load of grapes arrives at the Mumm Napa crushpad. This marks the beginning of the Mumm Napa harvest celebration.
The entire workforce at Mumm Napa comes out to the crushpad to participate in the annual harvest ceremony. Winemaker Ludovic Dervin welcomes all the employees and talks about the pride and tradition at Mumm Napa. Ludovic is excited but cautious about this year’s crop of grapes. Mother Nature has been very kind this season and all signals point to a spectacular vintage. Ludovic then grabs his sword and eye protectors and a bottle of Petite Meunier sparkling wine. He moves to the center of the crushpad and wiith one easy and skillful stroke of the sword, Ludovic sabers off the bottle top. He then pours the sparkling wine over a few of the bins of the harvested grapes as a “blessing” in hopes of bringing good luck and fortune to this year’s crop.
A table is lined with at least 100 split bottles of sparkling wine. I’m thinking, as the splits are handed out to the employees, what a great idea to have a huge toast in honor of the harvest. But I see no flutes in sight, so I am wondering, is it possible that they will drink the wine straight from the bottle? No, not even a chance. The splits are designed for another purpose. On a signal from Ludovic, each person pops the cork high into the sky. Now it is time to shake the bottles and, just like a baseball team winning the World Series, point them at your co-worker and let them rip. All this is done in great fun and spirit and what a fitting way to celebrate the start of a new wine year.
We have been to Mumm Napa on a number of occasions and have always found the winery to be a great place to sit and relax and enjoy a glass of bubbly and take in the absolute beauty of the Napa Valley. Next time we visit and taste, it will be much more enjoyable after having witnessed a very ruckus celebration and having the feeling that the Mumm Napa staff is one big happy family of workers.