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Stories from the valley

Night Harvest of Sierra Foothill Wine Grapes

Contributed by Tim Johnson

Long days are often the hallmark of agriculture. Early starts give you more day to get things done. Best of all in summer, you catch to coolest part of the day. For the majority of the year here at Walker Vineyard, early starts are the rule. During harvest, however, we switch to working at night to bring in the harvest. 

The benefits of night harvest are numerous. First, it allows the crews to avoid all of the early fall heat. Heat stress is an important health and safety consideration, when afternoon temperatures can be in the md 90’s. Grape quality also benefits from not being picked warm and sitting in the sun until they are trucked to the winery to be crushed. Finally, the grapes get to the winery early in the day, allowing them to get a jump on the long days of destemming, crushing and pressing the year’s vintage. 

Finishing your day with 10 tons of grapes off the vines and loaded on the truck to the sunrise is spectacular. It also gives you a good excuse to eat breakfast midmorning, turn off your phone and take a long, long nap.