This morning we picked grapes for the Vintage 2016 harvest at Flat Creek Estate winery. There were about 21 volunteers who picked about 8 tons of Syrah and Sangiovese grapes from 30 rows. We arrived while it was still dark at 6 am so that we would be ready to start picking at sunrise when it started to be light enough to see the grapes.
We were provided harvesting instructions by the owners and wine maker, along with coffee and granola bars. About half-way through the picking the chef brought out breakfast tacos and watermelon for everybody during out break, along with the water and Gatorade that was available under a tent. Here are my photos.
These are Sangiovese vines where we picked in Helen’s block (named after an owner’s mother). We started further to the left with Syrah.
This is a photo down one of the rows after most of these had been picked, although you can still see some on the right.
This is what it looked like with some of the volunteers that were working these rows. We have a picking buddy to work in pairs on both sides of the vines so that we make sure everything is picked. A small Kubota pickup drives up and down collecting filled buckets in 1/2 ton containers. It was amazing how many grapes we harvested in only four hours.
The Sangiovese grapes tend to be fairly large and hang in heavy clusters making it easier to snip them from the stems. Other grapes like Pinot Grigio, which we have picked before, are very small in tight clusters that grow very close the vine. Of course, you need to be careful that you don’t cut yourself with the clippers, and it’s a good idea to wear gloves.
Here’s a closer shot that shows some of the grapes hanging from the vine ready to be picked. There is netting covering the vines to protect the grapes from birds which has to be raised to allow picking.
Here you can see the grapes a little closer and notice how the stems are fairly easy to snip with one hand so you can simply catch a whole cluster when it drops into your other hand.
And this is a closeup of a grape cluster.
After we finished our picking we were treated to a mimosa in the Tasting Room (before it opened for the day) made from their Sparking Raspberry Wine mixed with Orange Juice.
All the volunteers will be able to attend a free Harvest Dinner (with wine, of course) prepared by the chef later in August in the Bistro, where they have many events.
We have been doing this for many years now and it’s always a fun experience. It’s great to help out and later enjoy the grapes we picked when the wine is finished, bottled, and available.