Picking Countdown

Harms chardonnay grapes awaiting harvest.









Picking Countdown

I have seen only one set of picking lights this year, and that was in the Carneros as we were on our way home from San Francisco one evening last week. Usually by now we are awakened in the night by the strange glare of the bars of florescent light from two or three miles across the valley, lights that illuminate so the pickers can see to pick in the dark.

White grapes in particular need to be cool before crush. Picking at night reduces or eliminates the step of cooling the grapes after the wineries receive them. Automatic picking machines do some of the work, but often it is our controversial immigrant workers, and I worry about them. All night they work, and sometimes into the next day too. Yes, some of them have fake ID’s. Estimates say 50% of our immigrant laborers are illegal.

How many of our unemployed would work all night and then into the morning picking grapes? Our American population no longer considers field work as an option, and many do not know how. It is a skill!

Meanwhile, we check the brix, the sugars of the grapes. 20, 21. Harvest is about 2 weeks away, late this year.