It was just a matter of time that we would harvest some of our fruit at night. There are a lot of good reasons for this technique, not the least of which is worker comfort. Our crews (from Michael Wolf Vineyard Services) are mostly year-round employees and they are the best authority on how to do their tasks best. It turns out that getting up at 3:00 am is preferable to sweating in the sun at 11:00 am and onward through the day. Makes sense to me. The only trick is that old bugaboo: logistics. Scheduling is always tricky and adding another piece of equipment (very bright lights) requires a tractor to pull it and someone to haul all that stuff up and down the Napa Valley to Mike & crews’ various customers. That said, it’s early in the harvest season so it is no problem at all right now.
Other reasons for night harvesting include the cheapest fruit cooling you’ll find anywhere: night time temperatures -- especially for white wine grapes and Pinot Noir, this is key to starting a fermentation on the right footing. The other biggie is winery logistics. It’s a wonderful thing to have a press load ready to go when the first workers roll in. That way, everyone starts busy and, likely, gets to go home earlier.
So, today we started at about 4:30 and picked for Farella-Park, Lail and Honig. Our 3+ acres of Sauvignon Blanc has a fair amount of variability and that can present a problem for picking decisions. In this case, the fruit from smaller vines goes to Phillipe Melka at Lail for his very unctuous, barrel aged style. The fruit from medium-sized vines goes to Honig for their medium-bodied wines and the big, bushy vines primarily go to our little program for our fresh, zesty style Sauvignon Blanc. Everyone seemd pretty pleased as the sun rose and the trucks loaded up. I know I am. It’s wonderful to get it safely into the tank, nice and cold.