Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Grape Harvest Day - Birdland Merlot

Yesterday was our harvest day - and it seemed a long day!  The harvest began at 5am - with the vineyard crew working with lights on their heads to see what they were doing before sun rise!


I began a little later - there was at least some daylight by the time I started....and the mist was rising off the pond....

As they had started in the dark, my friend Kathrin and I wandered around doing a "second pick" to find the bunches they had missed.  It was nice and quite leisurely strolling through the vineyard, picking the grapes and tasting a few.  As the rows go in different directions, Kathrin and I would split up and then I'd hear her soft singing as we were coming back closer....she seemed to sing all day :=D  And Bella, her little dog followed alongside her - with a few rest stops too!!!

My leisurely picking job was substituted after a while however, to a much more exciting task!  Another friend, Ken, and I became leaf pickers!  We had to go on the back of the tractor on the trailers  - on little running boards - and pick out all the leaves as the guys were throwing in the grapes into the half ton bins - all while the tractor was moving along the rows.  It was quite the fairground ride at times, and also quite back-tiring work, leaning into the bins and stretching to pull out the leaves.  Sometimes the grapes would be thrown in by a couple of pickers at at time so that was fine  - but then suddenly you'd get 5 or 6 loads all at once and be scrambling in hundreds of bunches of grapes to pull out leaves - all the while trying to keep your balance without holding on and hoping not to get a face full of grapes!  No photos of this phase I'm afraid as I couldn't deal with balancing, leaf picking and having a camera.

In general the grapes looked great.  The only sad part of the day however was when we were picking the grapes in the area where the turkeys had frequently been - despite our daily chasing efforts.  If you look online about wild turkeys and vineyards, it often says that turkey's don't eat many grapes.  If you saw our harvest yesterday, you would know that is not true.  Whole bunches would be left with only 1 or 2 grapes on them.  The turkeys had eaten loads.  I think they'd eaten easily more than a ton.....  It just looked so sad to see nearly empty stalks.  Again - sorry there were no photos - but the full bunches look much better!!

A total of 16.5 tons of Merlot grapes were picked. But the job didn't stop then!  The grapes had been bought for crushing and wine making in Houston, TX so they had to be put in a refrigerated truck, ready to be shipped to TX. Everything was therefore taken down to a field at the end of the lane - where a 48 foot truck awaited us.

Now all 33 white bins - which each contained approximately 1/2 ton of grapes, had to be weighed and then put on the truck with a fork lift - along with some barrels too, that were on their way to Houston.

As the bins were weighed, I had to write the weight of each bin on a piece of paper, fold it up and then put it in the corner of the bin.  After a while, it seemed a little boring to just write numbers so I started adding a few little drawings and happy messages to these notes.... I'm not sure who will find them and read them - but I'm hoping they will brighten their day :=D

Finally, everything was loaded and the truck headed on it's way.  Phew!  It was tiring.  John and a couple of the vineyard crew had worked for 12 hours - but they were still smiling at the end of it.

I ended my day with a little stomping - well, you just have to - and then a soak in the tub!

What a great day!  Harvest day is always one of the very best days of the year.

1 comment:

Zoe Nelson said...

Beautiful grapes, Ruth!