Upon waking up the morning that I was scheduled to help in the vineyard, my first thought was this: getting ready for work in the vineyard and cellar is so much easier than getting dressed to work in the office. I happily pulled on my most comfortable pair of jeans, a t-shirt and my tennis shoes and I was ready to go in under ten minutes.
However, I would quickly realize that getting ready was the only part of this job that was easier than working my desk job in the upstairs offices. When I arrived at the winery, I joined my fellow coworkers for our annual employee harvest. Our winemaker, Sara Fowler, dedicates a block of our vineyard to Peju employees each year and allows us to participate in the process of picking grapes.
Peju’s Vineyard Foreman, Alejandro, who has been with Peju for over 20 years, quickly showed us the best method for cutting the grapes off of the vine (and the best strategy to ensure that we walked away with all of our fingers). He made it look so easy, we all thought it would be a piece of cake. We were wrong. Five minutes in, I was already sweating in the September sun and having a hard time moving my bin with my feet as I shuffled down the vineyard row. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and my coworkers as we struggled to look like we knew what we were doing. However, after about 15 minutes, we all (kind of) fell into a routine and started to pick up the pace.
The grapes that we harvested almost filled two half-ton bins, weighing in at .8 tons. It took us (a team of 20) about an hour to pick all of these grapes. To put things into perspective, a single vineyard worker can typically pick that many grapes in an hour or less. Needless to say, we were not the most efficient team, but we got the job done.
So, the next time you open a bottle of wine, remember to toast to the men and women who worked tirelessly to pick those grapes. I can now say from personal experience that it is not an easy job!