Harvest is the anchoring point of our year, the boundary between the slow, subtle aging of the grapes and the slow, subtle aging of the wine. It is time when days and nights flow into each other with three a.m. picks and late night phone calls. Greg lets his beard grow out and we all smell faintly of sticky juice and vineyard dirt. Everyone comes together — the sandwich makers and the vineyard tenders and the city friends all help to bring the harvest in.
Matt, a beloved former employee, usually held down the fort at our downtown bistro. During the last couple of harvests, though, he went to the vineyards before dawn and pulled leaves and joked with the others. He recently shared his impressions of this headfirst introduction to the harvest ritual.
“One moment stands out. It’s dawn. Knees are aching, back [is] aching, and the sun is aching to emerge. I’m standing on a bin connected to a tractor looking across 101 Northbound as the sun slowly starts to rise. Just at that moment rain starts to fall. I peer across the vineyards looking at the hills and the vines that sit atop of it and realize I’m living a wine label. I lift my arms up to feel the falling drops. I feel like Andy Dufresne after he escaped in Shawshank Redemption, I feel like Marco Scutaro after the San Francisco Giants won Game 7 of the NLCS. Just then I’m hit with dirt and grapes from an incoming worker. I realize how quickly I go from being outside of the bottle to feeling like I’m inside of the bottle. You don’t really get what they mean by sense of place until you are sitting out there feeling the soil with every dump of a bucket. The smell of the wet rain mixing with the soil. Like dry concrete that is mixed with water.”
There are so many people involved in the journey from vine to bottle, and so many of them are with us in those frantic, magical weeks each fall. Each year we wonder how we are all crazy enough to do this, and each year we wonder how we could possibly not. We are grateful to every crazy, wonderful person who helps it happen.
This is the first in a series. Stay tuned for more anecdotes about harvest from various members of our team.