Harvest 2009 Begins!

Here are some photos of the first 2009 pick, followed by my two cents:

We start as soon as we can see...

Above and Below: Picking!

Above: Nancy Charles taking photos of a hard day's work

Loading up the grapes after weighing

Dexter wants out

We harvested our first Pinot Noir grapes on Tuesday, for sparkling wine (Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga). After such a terrible growing season in 2008, we were looking forward to seeing how everything picked out this year. Overall, it's looking absolutely fantastic out there.

On Tuesday we assembled shortly after 6:00 a.m. and chatted while we waited for the sun. In another 15 minutes we were able to see enough to start picking. We had two crews, with myself my mother and two others riding on the tractors to sort and do quality control. The QC job consists of picking out leaves, sub-par fruit (hardly any) or any other MOG that gets into the bins. (MOG is material other than grapes.)

It was the crew's first pick of the season, so they were pumped up and picked extremely fast. It was hard to keep up on the bins, but we managed mainly by hardly ever looking up. I have to say, I have less photos from this first pick of the year than in the past, just simply due to a lack of time to stop and take a pause. Oh, and extremely sticky fingers with not enough time to wipe them off before applying them to electronic equipment.

We did have one calamity of the day: Just a few minutes into picking our tractor died in the middle of the row, hooked up to a trailer rapidly filling with grapes. It was on my mother's crew and apparently something happened with the fuel pump (I'm so not a mechanic). Anyway, the tractor was D-E-A-D, much to the chagrin of the crew. It had to be disconnected from the trailer and pulled out of the row, then another tractor was carefully backed down the row (not an easy thing to do) to replace it. All in all, it didn't put the guys back very long, but we do have a dead tractor to deal with before our next pick in a few weeks.

How did everything look for the start of 2009? Fantastic. We sent 18 tons to the winery that day. Crop levels are back to normal and the grapes taste a lot like they did in 2007 - even though they're not ripe enough for still wine yet they already have flavor. There have been a few years when we waited for flavors to come about before picking, but this year they're already there, much like in 2007. I have a funny feeling that this is going to be a fantastic Anderson Valley Pinot Noir vintage.


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