Sheldon Haynie
November 8, 2011 | Harvest | Sheldon Haynie

Harvest and Crush '11

Harvest is a romantic term, it has connotations of happy peasants bringing in the sheaves, their voice raised in harmony. Harvest is the consumation of year's work in the fields, the garnering of sustenance and payback for all of the foregoing labor. Harvest is a lot of plain brutal hard work. All of these are equally true, you particular view perhaps whether you are savoring the fruits, or loading them into the bins at dawn. 

2011 has been a challenging year, with early cool weather, premature rains and low crop yields around the region. We've had to scramble a bit to find the fruit we need, and added an additonal Gilroy vineyard to our management portfolio, with Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Syrah. 

This year, we used professional picking crews for the second time, and it was the first that we had to negotiate and manage them. It's been a learning experience, as the pros and cons of hourly vs by the ton compensation, and supervised vs autonomous picking have presented. The value of a trust worthy crew, who can take the truck to the field, harvest efficiently, return promptly, destem and clean up is worth a lot more, than the crew who took 27 labor hours to pick less than a ton, and left the crush pad a mess, and then complain that the hourly rate should be $15 not $12. One learns, and moves onwards, the ranking of the crews for future calls the logical result. 

Crush was handled mostly by Jane, with help from Joan, the ladies manned the destemmer for the Mtn Chardonnay and Colombard, and ran the 180l Spiedel bladder press for all of the reds, with help from Noah and me, lifting and dumping the pomace out into the estate vineyard. 11 tons is a lot to hand process, and our muscles have been complaining, but there's the undeniable satisfaction of making something with your own hands. We are already planning ahead to next year, and realize we need to add press capacity to keep up. 


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