My Other Real Job

I can’t believe that I’m posting this picture because I look totally haggard in it, but it gives so much insight into harvest.  After working 18 hour days for 8 weeks I really don’t care anymore if my hair is  a giant frizzball and I have to be re-instructed on the principles of make up application.  I decided to post some pictures of what I do on most days because it occurred to me Tuesday that I haven’t actually written about my other real job, aside from being a mom I mean.

I grow winegrapes for myself and others, and make wine for my own brand, Graves Winegrowers.  I haven’t written about it much because, well, there just isn’t a whole lot going on in the vineyard right now that is exciting enough to share with people who are not plant geeks.  And most days we don’t even turn the lights on in the winery at this time of year.  The wine is just sleeping in barrel and preparing to emerge in all it’s glory, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.

Machine picked Syrah

As far as vineyards go, right now I spend my days evaluating water stress (or lack of it), directing shoot thinning, scouting for pests and diseases, making crop estimates, and coming up with strategies to manipulate winegrape quality, which has a direct effect on wine quality.

Beautiful cover crop

My goal is to grow really good wine that I like to drink.  Like $38 a bottle and up wine.  Science tells us ways to do this.  My job is to apply the science in the field to achieve the results that help me reach my quality goal in the winery.  A lot of it is intuitive and comes with lots of practice, trial and error.  But much of it I learned by studying grapevine physiology at Cal Poly.

 The relaxed nature of this message will change soon enough.  In September I will no longer be waiting for plants to grow, but will be racing to bring in a ripe crop under a tight deadline and then turning it into wine.  Racing against Mother Nature.  And we all know who has the upper hand.  (Hint: it is not me.)


2 responses

  1. Ah Hilary, don’t sell this time of year so short. Even people who aren’t plant geeks like to learn about “green harvest”, soil analysis, water stress. Dive in, love to compare notes.

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