By Ian Consoli
Every year, we like to sit with our newest harvest interns and introduce them to the Tablas Creek Blog audience. We typically do this about this time of year, when they have at least a week of harvesting fruit under their belt and an idea of how harvest is going. Well, as you have likely read on this blog, that's not the case this year! One week into September, this new batch of interns eagerly awaits the first fruit to drop into the cellar. So, this year, we sat down before the rush. What stood out to me is how different their personalities are, yet they are motivated by the same thing: seeing what's next. It is kind of a theme for harvest interns. It is a step towards a career in winemaking for some and a chance to see the process and get closer to the grape for others. This group has a mix of both motivations. They are all awesome, and I can't wait for you to meet them.
Tablas Creek Harvest Interns. From left: Joanna Mohr, Sarah Schultz, Trevor Pollock
Who are you?
I am Sarah Schultz. I am a cellar intern at Tablas Creek.
I'm Trevor Pollock. I'm from Paso Robles, California. I'm 23 years old and doing an internship for this harvest.
I'm Joanna Mohr. That's a loaded, vast question I ask myself every day. But yeah, Joanna, and I'm from Minnesota, born and raised.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bakersfield, California, and went to college at Cal Poly. I have lived in SLO for five years.
I grew up in Paso, but I've moved around a lot. Most recently, I lived in Colorado for about a year and a half, working at a ski resort and being a ski bum. I moved back about seven months ago.
I'm from Minnesota, but I have lived in many places. I worked for a marketing agency that had offices all over the world. I moved with them to Australia for three years and then to London after that. That's how I got into wine, actually.
How did you get into wine?
I went to a wedding at a winery during my sophomore year of high school, and I thought it was the coolest thing that people got to make wine for a living. So that's how I got into it. Now, I want to be a winemaker.
Well, I'm getting into wine right now. I studied plant science over at Cuesta and worked on some farms. I found this opportunity to work at a winery and decided that if I was going to work at a winery, I wanted it to be a place as biodiverse as Tablas.
I went to all the wine regions in Australia and liked it, but I didn't think I would do anything with it. When I moved to London, there were more opportunities to work in wine, and my friend recommended I go to wine school. That sounded great, but I didn't even know what a sommelier was at the time. I went through WSET, and I just loved it. So, I left marketing and became a sommelier.
Have you ever worked in grape harvest before?
I have; this is my fourth harvest. My first was at Phase Two Cellars in San Luis Obispo, then King's Family Vineyard in Virginia, Patson Hall in Sonoma, and now here at Tablas Creek!
Nope, my first one.
I helped pick and prune at a couple wineries in Minnesota, but I haven't done a full harvest. Vineyards in Minnesota are a little different varietally because of the cold climate, but the process is pretty much the same. Except it's a bit more gnarly in terms of the cold; we had a harvest in a snowstorm one year, and it was minus 30, so it was pretty intense in October.
How did you end up working harvest with us?
My goal is to work a harvest in as many locations as possible to figure out where I want to settle. I knew I wanted to come to Paso, then I saw Tablas's job listing, applied, and here I am.
I was in Europe over the summer and heard about his opportunity. I decided to cut my trip short and come back to start harvest.
I got super into biodynamics when I was in Europe, and Tablas always stood out as a winery I was interested in working at in the United States. I applied for the internship two years ago, but it was full by the time I applied. I didn't plan on applying this year, but I saw [Senior Assistant Winemaker] Chelsea's post about looking for interns, and I was like, I'll just shoot a shot. I sent her an email and resume, she remembered me, and here I am.
How is everything going so far?
So far so good. I love all the people. And how can you not be happy when you come to work and you're surrounded by dogs?
It's going great. Getting everything clean and ready for harvest, just prepping stuff.
Everything's good! It's nice to have time to come before the chaos happens and learn the ropes without getting thrown in. Being quite green at it, it's nice to have an idea of what to do. Everyone's super awesome to work with, and it's a really good crew. So far, so good.
What's the best bottle of wine you ever had?
The best bottle of wine I've ever had was Shooting Star Riesling from Lake County Steel Wine. I don't know. It's my favorite wine.
That's a tough one. Recently, I had a really good Viognier with my mom in our backyard. Memorable wines are all about the whole experience of where your surroundings are and who you're sharing it with. I don't remember specifically what the bottle was, but it was a nice Viognier and a nice environment.
Ironically, Chateau de Beaucastel. I was in the South of France and tasted a bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel that shifted something for me. I feel like anyone who has had a best bottle of wine understands how it shifts wine from just being wine to being something else entirely. It is hard to put into words. The wine becomes something that connects you to a place, a time and a memory and something deeper within. And that was before Tablas, so it was cool to find out they were connected. That was kind of like an icing on the cake.
What's next for you after your harvest?
Honestly, I don't really know yet. I think that's future Sarah's problem. I don't know. Again, I want to go to as many locations as possible. So somewhere, but I don't really know where yet. I want to do some harvest hopping and go to Australia or New Zealand, but we will see.
I'm not sure. I want to travel a lot more, so I'm thinking about doing a harvest in the Southern Hemisphere. I'd love to go to South America, Australia, or New Zealand.
Not sure. I kind of roll with wherever the wind takes me. I've wanted to do a harvest ever since I first got into wine, just because I want to learn this side of wine. I've been on the sommelier side for so long. I want to learn everything I can here, and I'm super passionate about biodynamics. We will see what happens at the end and where the path goes from here.
Is there anything else you want to share with the Tablas Creek audience?
I think that's it, man. I'm ready for harvest 2023, baby. Let's go!
I'm excited to make wine for you guys this season!