Behind the Scenes / Featured

How Our Winemaker Gets Fit for Harvest: Triathlons

Former Jordan Winery winemaker Rob Davis jogging on the Jordan Winery property

After all these years of making wine and swimming, biking and running, it never occurred to me how my training corresponds so succinctly with Mother Nature’s time clock. It is true that my hours of training are directly related to the hours of light; much the same as a growing season of the grapevines. My “finish line” at harvest compares so well to my energy/spiritual feeling at the completion of a triathlon. With all parts of life, there is a beginning, ending and the continuation of the cycle. For most if not all people in business, each person responds to their own internal clock and how it relates to the seasons. Exercise in itself is healthy, of course; but the exercise of “blending in with nature” is what is truly healthy and satisfies the soul.

We just crossed the half-way point of harvest 2014 on Monday, and after a brief rain delay from last night’s showers, we expect our last gondola of grapes to arrive at the crushpad before the end of September. Harvest is about 1-2 weeks ahead of schedule, as mentioned in our last blog post, and we’ll be finishing just as early, too. I’ll be back to training in the winter, when the vines go into dormancy, and then the cycle begins once again.

Read Wall Street Journal’s recent feature story on my work-out regime.


Readers should note that it is possible to find winemakers that do not fund right-wing political ads that are anathema to a majority of consumers.

Holly Pywell

Plant dormant, bare-root grape vines in the early spring.
Construct a trellis or arbor before planting. …
Most grape varieties are self-fertile. …
Before planting grapevines, soak their roots in water for two or three hours.
Select a site with full sun. …
Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).


I don’t have a vineyard, but I have 57 apple trees. And guess how I get fit for picking the apples in fall. BACKPACKING. I bow to you Rob – triathlon is a great challenge where you need lots of endurance. I wish you all the best in it (and in wine producing also 🙂

Rob Davis

Thank-you George. Love the smell of Gravenstein apples that grow close to our Chardonnay vineyards. 57 apple trees, that’s a lot of apples. Hope your season goes well. We are at least 2 weeks to go before we start- very late season. Cheers, Rob


Great post here, thanks!


This is super inspirational – we have a small garden but it’s nothing like this, and even it takes a bit of work! Sounds like triathlons are the perfect preparation for harvesting… much respect.


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Rob Davis

Winemaker at Jordan from 1976 to 2019. Triathlete, traveler and bon vivant. Retired after 43 growing seasons.

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