Harvest in full swing in California wine country
Harvest is in full swing in California wine country and will continue until early October. It could be longer if the weather cools below the normal for the year. Following is a description of a crew harvesting a small vineyard at the Limerick Lane Cellars. The winery is located on Limerick Lane in the Russian River Valley. Janelle and I rented a home on Limerick Lane a few years back and were very happy to watch an amazing harvest crew perform their tasks like a well-orchestrated professional sports team.
At around 6:15 am, a crew of eight begin their harvest work that will take up to mid-morning to complete. The grapes need to be picked when they are cool; otherwise, there can be problems with the natural yeast according to Ross Battersby, the winemaker at the time.
The crew tackles an area of about one hundred feet at a time, cutting and dropping the grape clusters into their bins and then stepping forward to the next row of vines. These are old Zinfandel vines, head pruned, so the harvesters have to duck under the vines to grab the grape clusters. This is not as easy as it would be if the vines were manicured and trained. When their plastic baskets are full, the workers carry them to the large bins, dump, and return to harvest at a furious pace. When a set of four half-ton bins are full, a tractor hauls the bins back to the winery to sit until the afternoon when the sorting and crushing begin.
What was most impressive to me as I photographed and observed the harvest crew was their intensity. I was astonished at their energy, spirit, and good nature. These folks are the unsung heroes of the wine world.