Guest Blog from Viticulturist, Dave Terry: A Day in the Life of a Night-Harvester

5ac96cdb0e2ed8a9-DSC07019Harvest can be a busy and disorienting time of the year. I say “disorienting” because it marks a shift where we begin working during the nighttime rather than during the day. We harvest during the night because the cool temperatures and lack of sunshine protect the compositional integrity of the fruit. Most times the fruit is picked and crushed without ever seeing the light of day. Although working during the nighttime is good for the fruit and wine, it can be sometimes difficult on mind and body, at least for the first week until you are able to get into the rhythm of it all. So, I guess for anyone interested in knowing what goes on in a viticulturist’s life during harvest, I will share.

Laetitia’s night harvest begins at 8:00PM. I usually like to show up at 7:30PM so that I can change from my tennis shoes into my work boots. It also gives me a chance to look over paperwork, change flashlight batteries and surf the internet. The next four hours entail harvesting, coordinating the movement of crews between blocks, paperwork, weighing bins of harvested fruit, and paperwork. At around midnight, I like to eat a hamburger and Snickers bar with Crew Leaders Rigo, Rufino, and Chuy. Sometimes Chuy tells a joke. After lunch, it is back to harvesting, coordinating, and paperwork. When the night’s harvest is finished at about 4:30AM, I drive back to my place in San Luis Obispo. I like to watch the news for about 15 minutes before making my way to the shower and eventually bed. If my blinds are shut tight preventing light to enter the room, and none of my neighbors turn on a leaf blower or decide to re-roof their house or throw a slip-n-slide party, I can sleep until about 10:30 or 11:00AM. By this time I am ready for some breakfast and coffee. During breakfast, I give Dustin (cellar supervisor) a call to talk about the previous night’s fruit and juice quality after it is crushed and in the tank. After breakfast, I like to get in the ocean or walk the Avila Ridge Trail.

Sometimes I will meet up with some friends for lunch. Either way, it’s good to let some sunshine hit your face-if for nothing else, just to feel _MG_1166more centered. I usually make it back home by 3:00PM and do some reading and make some phone calls. At 4, I take a quick 30 minute nap and then wake up and watch some Netflix. After that, it’s time to get ready for work and I’m back at the vineyard by 7:30PM.

I really can’t say whether I prefer working days or nights, I am kind of back and forth on the whole thing. However, when you are able to taste the quality of the wine from night harvested Laetitia Pinot, it makes it all wothwhile.

Viticulturist Dave Terry(pictured right) holds a Masters of Science Degree in Viticulture from CSU Fresno.

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