Life in Wine Country During the Grape Harvest
Seasonal Changes in the Vineyards
I live in the Paso Robles / Templeton Gap wine country, surrounded by vineyards. This puts me in a great place to observe the seasonal changes in the vineyards, especially near harvest time. I don’t really need a calendar to tell me what season it is. The grape vines tell me. The pictures of the Croad vineyard in the collage below were all taken standing in my yard and shooting across my side fence.
In winter the wines are dormant. In spring they start putting out small green shoots which turn into lovely verdant vines as summer approaches. By autumn, around harvest time the leaves begin to change color and the lush fruit clings to the vines. See the seasons at Croad Vineyards on greeting cards you can purchase at Zazzle.
Thanksgiving Card: Hummingbird in Vineyard CardWine Country in Winter Card
Views of the Croad Vineyard and the Harvest
In October the Croad Vineyard is lovely and lush. Some of the leaves are beginning to change to their autumn colors. The grapes are ripe and ready to pick. I took this picture on Saturday morning, October 30, 2011, as I was touring the Croad vineyard officially. Martin Croad had invited me to observe the harvest formally that year. Perhaps he had seen the videos below and knew how interested I was.
It was on October 18, 2010, that I first saw a harvest crew across my fence. I think they had probably been picking since before I got up. I was pretty excited, since I’ve been walking through other vineyards and watching this one across my fence as the grapes got closer and closer to ripeness. All week I had wondered when picking would begin. So when I heard sounds across the fence that morning, I ran out with my camera to see what I could catch. These are not fast action videos. You will see the most action in the last one.
Videos of the 2010 Croad Vineyard Harvest
In the first video, most of what I caught was birdsong and crew chatter, but if you look carefully — especially if you can click through and watch these full screen, you will see the heads emerging from the vines here and there and occasionally you will see an empty tub thrown to a worker when the one he has is too full for any more grapes. When I started filming before I left for Farmers Market, they were about 15 rows from my fence. The rows are two or three city blocks long. That’s a lot of grapes. I couldn’t believe how fast these people worked.
As I watched and occasionally turned my Flip on, I began to get a feel for how the crew was working. (Remember, I’d never seen this before.) They had a vehicle that I believed transported the tubs of harvested grapes to wherever they needed to go and also supplied the crew with new empty tubs as they needed them. The vehicle moved along the rows as the workers did, so that it was always close to them. It also held a barrel of water to keep the workers hydrated. I imagine when the vehicle was loaded it went to the winery to empty its load before coming back.
I am basing this entirely on my observations and drawing conclusions. Each video has the crew moving closer, and I do some narration in most of them to point out what I think is going on. When I returned from Farmers Market pickers were a few rows closer, and I kept leaving to do chores inside and returning to see how far they had progressed and getting a few more shots. In this video, the pickers are getting closer, and their dog makes an appearance. Again, you won’t see fast action, but you will get a feel for what goes on during harvest.
The video below has part of the Wild Anderson concert going on at the tasting room above. One of the pickers seems to be whistling along with it.
I also couldn’t resist getting video of the very friendly looking dog who seemed to be with the workers, but kept running over to see me by the fence. I’m not quite sure what his role in the harvest was, nor who he belonged to.
This last video has the most action if you want to see actual grapes being picked close up. This was the part I didn’t want to miss, and I took just one bite of my sandwich and left my husband at the table when I went out to see if they were at the fence yet. They were. Had I waited a few more minutes, I would have been too late. You can see how fast this man picks! At first the picker didn’t know I was a few feet behind him making the video, but when he saw me, he smiled and held up the grapes for all of you to see.
Have you ever watched the harvest of a vineyard before?
Note: The videos were shot with a Flip Video camera. It served its purpose, but it’s not as clear as the camera I have now. Its greatest virtue was ease of use and a battery that lasted for two hours.
6 thoughts on “Life in Wine Country During the Grape Harvest”
We have vineyards here in Arkansas, but the geography is so different. Your pictures and commentary both are outstanding!
Thank you, Susan. I hope to see your Arkansas vineyards someday. I understand that you live in a beautiful state, too.
Wow , I just took a walk through wine country. Croad Vineyard looks awesome in different seasons and now I am ready for a glass of chilled vino 🙂 Cool stuff! Thanks for sharing at the pit stop!
Thanks, Julie. I’m glad you enjoyed the tour.
Neat! I love the four season shots. I sure wish I could grow grapes without the bugs consuming my harvests!
It’s the deer I have to worry about.