Harvest has arrived here in my Hudson Valley New York vineyard. This is by far the most fulfilling event for the grape grower. After a year including dormancy, pruning, bud break, flowering, fruit set, vine balancing, veraison, and vine maintenance, the optimum time to pick the fruit has arrived! Throughout the season, the bulk of the grape grower's work is somewhat solitary. Except when you can get your kids and friends to help you with pulling weeds and installing bird netting. Harvest on the other hand is a time in my home vineyard where friends and family come together.
There is a sense of excitement as everyone checks in and asks, "When do you need us there for harvest?" It is in essence a family holiday, one that is put on the calendar with great anticipation. I'd dare say for some, me especially, it is a day that is filled with more excitement and joy than even Christmas. Sorry Santa. Can you tell how much I enjoy my hobby? But seriously, this hobby brings family and friends closer. It cements a bond that carries from year to year and hopefully from generation to generation.
Before harvest I spent the day cleaning the area where all the grape processing and primary fermentation occurs. Yes, this is one section of my garage. I've said it before, a pure garagiste. I took out all my primary fermentation tankage, crusher/destemmer, press, and various tools and cleaned each with a sulfite solution. All were then rinsed with fresh water. The floor was all washed down with bleach and water. Once everything was dry, it was all returned and set up for the big day.
So what was harvest like this year? After a bit of rain pushed harvest back a day. Day break began with the removal of the hundreds of bird netting clips that kept most of my feathered friends from gorging themselves on my beautiful grapes. I'm amazed, and frustrated at the same time, how every year that no matter how tightly I believe I have the netting closed, a few Houdini descendent winged friends always seem to make it inside to help themselves to a quick lunch. I think on average I had pulled one to two birds a day out of my grape sanctuary. And with every bird that came out, so went on another handful of clips to close up the netting a bit more. Once all the clips were off the somewhat tedious task of removing the bird netting occurred. It was taken off the vines, laid flat, folded in thirds and rolled up neatly for next season. Thanks guys....