We harvested our vineyard on October 19, about a week earlier than usual. Early harvest was typical in Napa Valley this year. The grapes are dark blue, the seeds are brown, the grape juice is light pink, and the skins are soft. That means they’re ripe.
Barb appears a bit frustrated disconnecting the bird netting from the stake. Actually, she was stressed. Bob Bolan, the winemaker, told us Monday that he wanted the vineyard harvested the following morning.
That meant we had to remove the 1400’ of bird netting we installed on the perimeter of the vineyard in September. Seven hours later, all of the bird netting was folded, rolled, and stowed for next year and Barb had a large glass of wine in her hand.
The above photos show a sunny harvest morning although the temperature was 41. Bob gave us short notice of harvest because an atmospheric river was forecast to dump a foot of rain on Howell Mountain beginning the day after harvest. The forecast was accurate.
The entire vineyard is hand harvested with knives by our highly skilled and fast vineyard management crew. Not even one band aid was necessary. On harvest day, Gerry is like a 10 year old on Christmas morning. He gets to drive his tractor about 4 hours and the vineyard crew makes him feel useful.
Each macro bin holds about 800 pounds of grapes. The grapes are driven to the nearby Bremer Family Winery where they are weighed by the winemaker. One time Gerry jumped on the scale and hid behind the macro bins. Now Gerry has to stand where Bob can see him.
Our harvest yield was about 50% of average due to more widespread frost damage than we realized. Nevertheless we are very grateful considering our 2020 crop was lost entirely to smoke taint. Although Mother Nature continues to test us we will certainly raise our wine glasses high on Thanksgiving. We are relieved and thankful that there were no large wildfires in Napa Valley this year.
Barb and Gerry Sieck