Harvests in Sonoma County – there is no such thing

“It’s the highlight of the year, isn’t it?” You have only one shot to “call the picking”, to bring (these grapes). .

For Eric Sussman, longtime owner of Radio-Coteau, which produces the cult pinot noir near Occidental, the harvest reflects an ever-changing set of challenges and opportunities.

“It’s a pretty trying season, both emotionally and physically,” he said.

“Not only, you know, we are faced with a huge task of harvesting the harvest of the season and turning it into wine, but we also have to deal with the ups and downs of time, Mother Nature and things in the world. natural. world.”

‘Soufflé’ by the aromas

This time of year, wineries in Sonoma County are filled with vats of fermenting wine. Each winemaker will tell you that it is the best smell in the universe.

Belén Ceja grew up in a family of wine growers and now runs Heirs of My Dreams, a custom winery and grinding establishment in Sonoma with her sister, Ellie. Ceja said that once the fermentation has started, walking around the cellar is a rich sensory experience.

“It’s basically like when people walk into a bakery, when you smell all these nice, nice smells and you’re like ‘Mmm, bread.’ This is what I feel at harvest time. You come in and you smell them, ”as she pointed to a row of barrels and tanks.

“And that kind of brings it back, like, man, it’s really happening.”

For Ceja, the harvest brings out all the emotions at the same time.

“It’s an adrenaline rush basically all the time… Right from the start, when you unload the trucks, when you weigh the trash cans and say, ‘OK, these grapes are beautiful… these beautiful little black marbles. “”

Hanna Winery’s winemaker Jeff Hinchliffe soaks up the harvest with all his senses.

“When you can, you stop to enjoy the whole look, the smells and the joy – the aromas of fermentation,” he says.

Hinchliffe enjoys bringing visitors to the winery to experience the harvest firsthand.

“To take people and let them feel what’s going on here, what’s going on. There is no one who is not blown away by the aromas of a fermenting SB vat (sauvignon blanc). It is my favorite. And that energizes me too, because it kind of confirms what we’re doing. “

Avila agrees to bask in the beauty of the grapes just picked or the smells of a fermentation tank bring the harvest to life.

“These are the little rewards nature gives you, aren’t they?” ” he said. “Those smells and tastes along the way, as you watch it go from being a simple product to something really, really delicious. “

Live in the moment

Despite the sensory overload and the joy of seeing a vision one day come to life in the glass, the harvest still means three months away from loved ones and getting by with very little sleep. Sometimes it can feel like the crew are going through the long weeks of harvest by sheer force of will.

For Belén Ceja, the long harvesting days are also days spent away from her little girl, who stays with her husband and mother while she is in the cellar.

Ceja, who was eight months pregnant during last year’s harvest, wakes up around 4.30am to breastfeed her daughter, now 9 months old, before arriving at work around 5.30am.

“And it’s not one of those ‘Hey, let’s point in, point out.’,” She said. “You go there until you’re done… and you sleep like there’s no tomorrow.” “

Sometimes her mother brings the baby to the cellar for lunch for a visit.

Hinchliffe rides his bike to the cellar before dawn, doing much of the planning for the day in his head as he rides, arriving around 5 a.m. He tries not to take a single day off from harvest, believing it will break the flow of the routine.

“Don’t take time off. Not. Enter every day; don’t break the beat, ”he said. “There are only three days: yesterday, today and tomorrow. You live purely in the present moment.

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