I received a message from vineyard manager David that my grapes had hit my desired Brix (sugar) level on Monday morning. The long-awaited time was finally upon me! I booked a box truck for transportation of the 3 tons of grapes from Clarksburg to Santa Cruz and cancelled all my plans for the evening (getting in bed at 7pm and reading). I arrived in Clarksburg at 9:30pm Monday night and was greeted by David. Here he is below looking "legit" in a vineyard safety vest.
David and his wife Ana were kind enough to host me in their home for the night, as we would be waking up early to prepare the bins at the vineyard for the pickers at 6am. Just before sunrise the crew began the tornado of picking. I was on the back of the tractor sorting out leaves and other non-grape matter as the crew quickly dumped crate after crate of beautiful, cool Chenin clusters into the bins.
All three tons were picked in a mere 45 minutes! Loading the truck actually took longer than the pick, as David wanted to ensure that I had a balanced load (very appreciated!). I had an uneventful drive back to Santa Cruz, save for a nerve-racking ascent of highway 17 in which the truck would not go over 20 mph. Grapes were poured into the press around 1pm, and the beginnings of wine existed by 3pm. I did not eat that day because of adrenaline and nerves, and by the time the press was all clean and pressed skins were ready to hit the compost pile, I was ravenous.
The day ended with me wolfing down a pulled pork sandwich, so it was a pretty great day. Thanks to everyone who made this possible. I am in such awe of the generosity all around me. Stay tuned for the journey from grape juice to wine!
All the best,