The grapes are picked, the wine is in the barrel, and the vineyard is put to bed. And so ends another vintage at Dragon’s Vineyard and Wine Company. It is time for, after such a frenetic month, a good rest.
We picked three times this year. The first was in the middle of September for the famous Dragon’s Kiss Rose` and twice in October: once for our award winning Dragon’s Lair Pinot Noir and a second time for a brand new venture. There will be more coming on that at a later date.
For the first two picks we hired a professional crew who came and picked in a most efficient and proficient manner; they actually ran up and down the rows. It was fairly exhausting just watching them. But run they did, in good humor and chatting in a friendly manner between themselves. By noon the grapes were gone. The last pick is a different story.
So the third pick is the one we like to call the “Family and Friends Pick.” We put out a call to all our friends to see who would like to come out and pick grapes with us, the payoff being a bottle of wine and a quiet, intimate luncheon afterwards. Most agreed to the bottle of wine, but none would agree to a quiet, intimate luncheon. Nothing would do but a loud, raucous party afterwards. We agreed to the terms and set a date. The Saturday we chose ended up being a glorious October day.
Remember how I said the first two picks were efficient and proficient? The last pick was neither of those things. People started showing up around 0900 and drinking beer around 1000, this being a veteran heavy crowd, although there were some civilians who managed to get into the spirit of things rather handily. They’d drop the fruit into buckets; I’d load the buckets in the truck and then drive them to the winery, a trip of not more than a couple of minutes. I don’t know how many trips I made. All I do know is that each time I got back to the vineyard people seemed to be having a better time every time I returned.
The winery had a crew of close friends who were sorting the grapes and separating out the MOG (material other than grapes) running the de-stemmer and getting the berries into the totes. They particularly appreciated it when someone in the vineyard would drop an ice-cold beer into a bucket of grapes as a motivator, because sorting out MOG is boring when the grapes are as clean as ours. Our good friend Tommy Houston, Vineyard Pirate at Large, prepared the food, sliced the salami and in general did what he could to keep people in the vineyard and picking and not mysteriously disappearing only to re-emerge at the beer cooler. Keeping them collected and on task was like herding cats.
We were done at three thirty in the afternoon. The winery crew came over to join the party, corks were pulled, food was served on the patio, thanks were given, and the party went on into the wee hours of the morning, as loud and raucous as when they had first started picking. And only one person cut a finger with their clippers, and no one was stung, which in itself is little short of miraculous.