The harvest season is one of the most popular times for folks to visit Napa. I can’t argue with that, the weather is nice, you get to see some of the harvest action, there are usually plenty of events to attend and all kinds of other good stuff going on. For those of us that live and work here it is also one of our favorite times of year, though it is a ton of work as well.
I’d say that the busy season really starts about a month before harvest. It is when things really start getting dialed in. Checking in on the vineyards becomes more frequent and you start formulating an outline of how this harvest might go (of course it never really goes entirely according to plan). When harvest finally begins folks start pulling long hours. In general 10 to 12+ hour work days become the norm, the work week generally lasts 8 days minimum and sleep is pretty far down on the priority list but when it happens it is oh-so-sweet.
Just for fun here is what my schedule has looked like as grapes were coming in a week and a half ago:
- 4:30am – Regular wakeup call from the cat…
- 6:00am – Up and at ’em! It is harvest time.
- 10:15am – Grapes are in their bins, time to haul ass out to the winery to make sure everything is ready to roll when grapes hit the deck.
- 10:50am – Haul ass back home to get ready for the day job.
- 11:15am – Get to the office/tasting room a little late (sorry!) and TCOB.
- 7:15pm – Close up the tasting room for the night and head back out to the winery to get fermentations going.
- 7:30pm – Checking on bins of freshly crushed Merlot, hydrate yeast and inoculate bins for fermentation.
- 9:50pm – Get home, grab a cold one, put my feet up and fall asleep on the couch in about a half hour flat.
This schedule has been pretty close to the norm for the last couple weeks since the Riesling came in. Each day is a constant juggling act and it usually stays that way through October but does depend on how early or late a harvest season is. Between punchdowns, pressing and other vineyard lots being delivered the harvest work piles up fast and we still need to get a little wine-ing and dining in to blow of steam.
After about two weeks of “go go go” like this you are tired. As soon as that third week comes around you decide to stop being tired and to start being awesome instead.
So if us wine country folk seem a little loopy you now know why.
There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead…right?