|This frog is following me!|
Let’s pass over how you look: You’re jet-lagged, you haven’t had coffee or even washed your face, and it is, for godssake, 3:30 in the morning. Plus, you and Prince Charming are both wearing halogen head-lamps held on to your bed-heads with crisscrossing black elastic bands. (I doubt it’ll become a fashion trend any time soon.)
The idea is to harvest the grapes while they’re cold, when the sugar is just right, and before the spate of hot weather turns them to raisins.
There’s a four-hour window of time before the violist-vigneron has to leave for his rehearsal in San Francisco.
Nature is already playing its symphony: frogs, crickets, birds. The lonely sound of middle-of-the-night traffic on the Gravenstein Highway. Our two pairs of grape scissors snipping. (Try saying that 10 times in a row!) The satisfying plunk as the clusters pile up in the grape tray.
When the tray is full, you stumble with it, in the dark, down the rows, over the clods of earth, trampling weeds and peppermint. Trays weighed, weight of each one noted, and then back into the vineyard to start again.
After two hours in the damp and cold, your hands hurt. After three hours, you have a renewed sense of respect and admiration for Cesar Chavez. The closest you have ever come to this labor is Labor: that other middle-of-the night long haul with magical consequences.
It takes two consecutive days of waking in the dark and working until the sun has made the light on your head unnecessary. But, together, you gather all the fruit: 584 pounds of Pinot noir and Pinot gris.
It’ll make about 180 bottles of wine. Santé!