Harvest continues in the vineyard. At this point we’re all getting a little worn out, but there’s still a lot of work to go until we can rest. Presently, we’re getting ready for a hand-pick in one of our Pinot Noir blocks. These preparations include logistics (gathering bins, and tractors and trailers to convey them through the vineyard) and actually getting the vines themselves ready. In this case, we’ve pulled the leaves before the picking crew begin operations in order to increase the ease and efficiency of the pick.
This might seem like a small thing, but anyone who has worked harvest in a vineyard before will appreciate the rationale here: when picking acre upon acre of grapes, not being required to clear a path to the fruit through the canopy demonstrably increases the speed with which fruit can be harvested. The difference of even a few minutes can make a huge difference in a large-scale pick. Furthermore, it makes the process easier for our employees and, considering this work can be fairly grueling, anything we can do to make their work easier is something we’re going to do. Finally, at this point the grapes, particularly reds like Pinot Noir, are dense with sugar, and consequently susceptible to infection by various fungi. By clearing out the canopy we improve air flow and make it more difficult for the canopy to hold onto the sort of warm, dense air in which fungus tends to thrive in.
This is actually a fairly good microcosm of the larger enterprise of growing wine grapes: one action with many possible effects and with several different objectives. The sheer number of variables involved in growing wine grapes is dizzying, but they also make wine grapes such a fascinating crop to raise.