Watching a picking crew harvest grapes is an unbelievable rush. Your eyes fight to follow the hooked knives slicing away at each stem. You hear the grapes shaking on the vines as the workers tug the canes. A tractor engine hums. You hear the men shout for more collection bins. But you can’t see anything–unless you follow the lights.
This is the beauty of night harvesting.
We harvest our Russian River Valley Chardonnay vineyards in the coldest hours of the night, so the grapes arrive cold with crisp acids, ideal sugar levels and brighter fruit flavors. This year’s harvest began on September 17 with one small block of Russian River Chardonnay, then crush kicked into high gear on September 29 after a brief heat wave September 24-27.
This footage, which features the picking crew at one of our favorite Russian River Valley vineyard sites along the east side of the river, was captured before dawn on September 29. (Update 2011: our latest night harvest video has been added below, too.)
Thanks to our friends at Cal Plans Vineyards for working so hard to ensure cold, pristine grapes are delivered to our winemakers.