By Chelsea Franchi
Anticipation of harvest is a primal feeling. It's a dichotomous sensation made up of a humming excitement, a nervousness that simmers just below the surface, and a light touch of hysteria. We're anxious for the first fruit of harvest to come in, while at the same time, we're hoping we can push it off for a little bit longer. By all accounts, it looks as though harvest from our property will commence early September - but, as this is agriculture and Mother Nature is at the helm, that's nothing more than our best guess.
In preparation for this epic time of year, all the members of the vineyard and cellar crew are drinking up time with their loved ones as though every second is a fleeting, delicious drop. It's fortunate we have a team that gets along, as we'll be seeing their faces far more than those of our chosen partners in the months to come. Weekend plans are a luxury afforded to the time before and after harvest, but not during. Currently, we're relishing the feeling of getting into our cars dry and comfortable, after a work shift that lasts eight hours. All of that will be changing in the coming weeks, when our horizon will look more like this:
Our days are about to be filled with the whine of the must pump, the whir and tumble of the de-stemmer, and the rattle of the sorting table, all overlaid by the constant thumping music that was chosen by whoever arrived first and/or was thick-skinned enough to endure the inevitable complaints about their music selection from everyone around them (unless it's Thursday, because on Thursdays, we listen to R. Kelly and there can be no complaints. Well, there can be complaints, but no one will listen. They're about to be filled with wet heat and the sharp sting of carbon dioxide, both byproducts of fruit fermenting in tank and the deepest inhalations our lungs can handle every time we walk past the rosé tanks (I'm so looking forward to that smell!) They're about to be filled with the most vibrant and ever-evolving selection of colors: from the bubble gum pink of counoise to the ox-blood red of syrah, from the electric green stems at the beginning of harvest to the golden, crackly leaves toward the end. Harvest season is a true sensory overload - made even more overwhelming because all participants are exhausted in every sense of the word.
This job is unlike any other that I know of. Yes, we work ourselves into the ground, but we do it with a common goal of making wines we're all undeniably proud of. The team we've built shares the delight that's earned from crafting a product with one's own hands. And there are times, too, when our job is just the way Hollywood portrays it. There are long lunches on the crush pad, made from ingredients that were sourced from the property and slow cooked under the percipient eye of our Executive Winemaker/Vineyard Manager/Fearless Leader, Neil Collins, who just so happened to be a chef before turning his attention to the wine world. These lunches are masterfully paired with beautiful wines, giving us a chance to remember, in the middle of the chaos, why it is that we do what we do.
For now, I plan on savoring my post-work gym routine (that's a laughable goal during harvest), my quiet meals at home with my husband, raucous weekends with friends and family, and the primal thrill I feel deep in my bones in anticipation of what's to come:
Bring it on.