Picking by Moonlight – An Exercise in Humility


An angular standoff between moonlight and floodlight


The world looks entirely different when travelling Vineyard Drive by moonlight.  Blue lit trees stretch their weird limbs in arches above the roadway while night creatures go casually about their daily business.


Lucas kicking off the pick


Halter Ranch is all blue hue and shadow punctuated by the harvest lighting arrays and the near full moon.  There is excitement in the air as we embark on the evening’s harvest activities and a certain spell is cast in the knowledge that most of the world is asleep while our seasoned harvest crew kickstarts the harvest ritual.


Beginning the pick in Block 30 Cabernet Sauvignon


There is a definite magic to picking at night, the benefit is evident in the contentedly cool grapes and (fermentation willing) the wines to come.  Berries are friendlier to the sorting table and destemmer when they are cold.


Full bins of Cabernet Sauvignon en route to the winery


Despite our cold storage room, grapes that are harvested in the heat of the day tend to maintain their warmth at the center of each half ton bin and when this portion of warm grapes goes through the destemmer, they are inclined to squish too readily and slow the process.  Our first year of night picking ties directly in with the overall plan of quality, efficiency, and cleanliness that fostered our new winery and that inspires our sustainable practices.


Lucas and Miguel share a laugh while graciously posing for a photo



Humility comes in every slight misstep, be it  slipping while depositing grapes in the bin, missing a bit of crumbled leaf in a cluster, or failing to assist another crew member fast enough as a bin full of grapes is passed over a nearby row of vines.  This sense is heightened by the absolute quiet and beauty of the moonlit surroundings.  All the more in the realization that each and every grape contains within it the potential components to make a few drops of final wine.  The knowledge inspires diligence and concentration to avoid slipping up.

Despite any minor mistake, other team members are gracious, there is no aspect of the process that cannot be honed to greater perfection and executed.  The end of Harvest 2012 is drawing near, to the joy and sadness of all.  Joy in the wines to be made, sadness in the passing of another crop, another leafing, into dormancy for the winter months.  Until next year, happy picking, happy crew, happy wines and cheers to moonlit picks!


Winery Peak and Peeking Moon

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