My prior post touched upon how no two days in the life of a vineyard are the same and how one really has no control of Mother Nature. Now this harvest season has finally ended for us and I must say that it was quite the roller coaster ride! We were heading into the season with expectations of a smoother and more bountiful harvest than last year. The tonnage looked to be up and the fruit was tasting very good. I was discussing the status on a regular basis with the vineyard manager and at last the day was set to begin. As luck would have it, the day scheduled was my birthday, September 20th…what a nice gift! So on that day, before the break of dawn, we could hear the tractors starting up, trailers being hitched and the muffled sound of vineyard workers’ chatter. Up and at’em with a sip of coffee and cameras ready, we stepped outside and shuffled between the rows getting some really great shots! This is truly an exciting experience to watch the hustle and precision of the vineyard workers fast paced hand picking, first into small bins and then into the large two ton bin on the back of the tractor trailer. As the day progressed I was informed that only half the vineyard would be harvested and that there were two blocks that just needed a little more time to mature…well, you can’t rush Mother Nature. It looked to me like somewhere between 22 and 24 tons had been harvested…now for the wait.
We were informed that harvesting would resume on the 27th and probably finish on that day. Well, that was perfect as we had plans pick up a new puppy on the morning of the 25th which would give us a little time to ease her in to the family! We drove nearly 2 1/2 hours to get the new pup (near Sacramento) and on the way back coming out of Napa via the windy 128, Kirsten noticed a very large plume of smoke rising out of the hills ahead…”That looks like it’s very close to us on Pine Mountain!”. Talk about an agonizing ride home…the dog had already lost her lunch all over the back seat and we were in panic mode! Driving through Geyserville on the 101 it was so smokey that you could hardly see the road ahead, but shortly thereafter it cleared up. The reports were telling us that the fire was blazing 10 miles due east from our hillside and that the winds were blowing in the opposite direction, at leas for the moment. As we approached Pine Mountain Road, some people at the bottom were telling us that they were told to evacuate….this was not the perfect scenario introduction for our new puppy and our established 10 year old dog Charlie!
Needless to say, when we got home our anxiety level was read by the dogs and they reacted to each other accordingly. We did prepare to evacuate, which created a very eerie atmosphere for all of us, but it never happened. The Sawmill fire, as it was named, consumed more than 1500 acres and took 500 firefighters to finally get control. As the winds were flowing east, we saw very little ash and practically no smoke, which would not have been good for the grapes! As it turned out, our road remained open and harvest was able to finish. As of this writing, our new pup Kadie and Charlie are getting along great (except around feeding time!) harvest tonnage and quality were up, and as a bonus we are pressing 100lbs of Cabernet grapes to make a little wine for our house with the help of our good neighbors, and we picked an additional 20lbs of grapes to make jelly! I have to say there was not a dull moment in this harvest season…can hardly wait for the next!!!