From the Winery

Wine Bar Manager Goes Harvest Intern

October 18, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Rebekah here! I’m taking a break from my usual duties as Wine Bar Manager and Direct Sales Coordinator to check out harvest 2012. So for the month of October I’m hanging out in the winery with Rob and the guys, working long days (and nights!) and getting my hands dirty. I’m learning a lot and thought you might want a peek behind the scenes.


First lesson learned: Even though it goes against your better judgement, eat your entire delicioiusly greasy, cheesy sub sandwich during lunch. You’ll be happy for the extra calories as the work day stretches into the dinner hour. Especially if you’re a snacker.



Bottling, bottling and bottling some more. Not a typical harvest activity at all, but it had to be done. The four of us (Rebekah, Erin, Deven and Erick) broke open boxes, emptied bottles, re-boxed, glued and palleted 20 pallets of wine. That’s 13,440 bottles that passed through at least two of our hands. No small feat! By the end of the day, our non-verbal communication was spot on. Our day was only broken up by a lovely lesson from our local lab tutor. Line of the day: “that would be less than desirable.” Well, now we know.



Flying Solo. Or, the Blind leading the Blind. Erin and Rebekah were left to their own devices after just 2 days in the cellar. The tasks of the day included: cleaning two 4,000 gallon tanks, scrubbing out 6 fermenters and…. that was it. It took us about 6 hours (4 hours more than it should have apparently) but we learned a ton from our stand-in tutor, Ben, and as a reward, Rob took us along on his trip to Daffodil Hill to give the grapes a final taste before bringing them in.

You can’t help but learn something every time you talk to Rob Stuart about wine. And visiting a vineyard to get an assessment of the physiological readiness of a grape is no exception. Yes, we used the Brix measurer thingy to check the sugar levels and yes the numbers looked good, but beyond this, Rob showed us how to taste the grapes and imagine them as the finished wines that we know so well. We tasted pinot noir from two different blocks at Daffodil Hill- the 667 block and the smaller 114. It was clear that these two blocks tasted different and after some tutelage, it also became clear why Rob chooses to blend the two together. The complex, fruity, robust flavors of the 667 block become more balanced with the addition of a little more structure from the 114 block. So cool.



Pump overs! Fruit! Plumbing, oh my! I hadn’t ever heard this before I started working harvest, but now that I have, I know it to be true: a lot of harvest is like Glorified Plumbing. Really! We’re dealing with hoses and clamps and drains and pumps and gunk and clogs (of seeds mostly).

We finally got to process some fruit today- 10 tons of beautiful Pinot noir from Daffodil Hill Vineyard. The four of us worked together to de-stem it all and Erin and I had a fun (albeit, very wet) time cleaning the de-stemmer when we were done. My favorite part? Pulling juice sample for Rob. Of course he made us all take swigs of the fresh juice and I’ll tell you, there’s nothing quite like it (except maybe the final product.)



It’s been a long day today. We’re finally getting the hang of things as far as the hoses and clamps and pumps go. Now it’s time for some fine-tuning. We’re measuring brix, barreling down, and doing delastage. De-la-stage. In all my wine studies, I  had never come across this term. But, here is is. Basically, we moved juice off their skins and seeds into another tank. After about 90 minutes, we pumped that juice back onto the skins. It’s a lot of work, I can tell you that. But as I understand it we do it to soften the tannins in the wine. That’s what we like!

« « 2009 Autograph Pinot Noir | The continued adventures of Rebekah the harvest intern » »


2 Responses to “Wine Bar Manager Goes Harvest Intern”
  1. Dave Plude says:

    Delightful. I get to experience harvest & crush without getting covered in grape juice. Looking forward to more great vino. See you….someday soon.

  2. tim says:

    Rebekah! Great job blogging. I can’t imagine how much effort it takes to blog while you’re working 14 hour days…so kudos to you and each entry is well written. I too love talking with Rob and learning more from him. He’s a wonderful guy and may make R Stuart some of the best Pinot in the country, but all of you help make R Stuart a wonderful wine organization and family I’m proud to be part of. Cheers and get some rest!

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