Our last pick was Monday, with small remaining blocks at Wind Ridge, Ridgecrest and Corral Creek all picked that day. And, although that gives that measure of certainty and relief from exhaustion to the vineyard crew that had been averaging 1 ½ tons picked per person for a week plus, we’re of course not done yet.
Wynne, Katie and Greg have another three weeks of very long hours and weeks on-end without days off before the final sparkling wine is raised to celebrate. Everything from now on gets calmer and more predictable with no fruit coming in, and at some point a week from now or so, it will seem like overnight we will go from overload to “where did all the ferments go?”
The winery harvest crew has been stalwart this year, enduring a major slug of bottling, then without ANY breather jumping straight into harvest mode. We even had to complete CHEHALEM “here’s how we do it here” training after we had fruit in-house. Yes, this was a very early harvest start due to a very consistent, warm growing season, the warmest on record. The rain event and a cool spate interrupted the season and turned it into two discrete picks, with early Pinot noir ferments in barrel before remaining grapes were picked! Ah, I get to use the “bi-modal picking distribution” nerd phrase!
Let me introduce our great Harvest Interns for the year:
- Pete Ebbers comes to us this year with six-plus years of experience all-over, from several stints in New Zealand, California, Virginia and Oregon vineyards and wineries, contributing a zany sense of humor, good background and a willingness to work hard. He was educated at William and Mary and Lincoln, giving a two hemisphere perspective—being 17 feet tall or so (at least to vertically challenged people like me) he carries with him a good view of things naturally.
- Meredith Bell returns to Oregon where she grew up, having had a rich educational experience (biochemist from UCLA and Masters in Enology and Viticulture, UC Davis [with many of the same steps Wynne took two years before]) interspersed with multi-hemisphere winery work in France, Oregon and Australia. Her desire to be in wine followed exciting experiences in West Africa in conservation work with lions, baboons and monkeys, followed by Big Cat rescue and sanctuary work in Florida, and then a return to Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. A very cheery, bright person, even after a week or so of 12-15 hour days.
- Jesse Hiestand furthers the highly educated and highly passionate wine professionals working harvest this year, being a computer scientist out of Smith College who has worked “normal” jobs computerizing industries such as cruise lines, but has in the last four years added wine, working at various levels in New Zealand, Australia and Germany. Nothing could be better for social media consulting than wine, or is it vice versa? A vibrant, positive spirit at all times.
- Simon Lauinger has just graduated from Geisenheim University in Germany with a BS, but already with experience both in Germany and New Zealand, beginning at 16 when he began making wine from the apples on his family’s orchard, which he has done every year since—even doing a methode champenoise version last year. He was a colleague of Felix Egerer at school and has the same cool sense of humor, drive and excellent English speaking abilities. He is here because of his passion for Pinot noir. The right place, the right person.
- Xin He, or Annie, is from China via New Zealand, having graduated as a microbiologist and geneticist from the University of Otago in Dunedin and then pursuing wine science at Auckland University. She has worked in wineries in New Zealand and in other laboratory environments, so was interested in experiencing the entire process here at harvest. She has done everything well and with a smile, even driving a forklift and punching down. A great combination to have when lab analyses are precise and her laughing is frequent!
It will be great when the hectic pace this crew has seen since the beginning slows and the finely orchestrated mad dance can be about drinking beer and wine and eating sushi. Maybe next week!
Weather and Its Implications
The dry, sunny weather of the last couple weeks is continuing for another week at least, according to prognosticators, showing how normal this is and how aberrant the “30 Year Rain Event” was almost 3 weeks ago. We like sun and yet don’t depend on it any longer since all harvest is complete, as of Monday the 14th. This is the earliest finish to harvest at least in the last 15 years, beating out 2003 and 2004 by a day.