Neither day laborer nor farm worker will be added to my resume any time soon.
After a couple hours of grape picking I know I have the ability to do the job, but I’m just not sure how many hours and days my body would last. Nor am I sure my speed would pass muster with a boss.
I’d do it again, though. Oddly, it was fun. Being outside, a little physical labor, and grapes. That’s a good combination for enjoyment; at least when the work is limited.
I certainly have a new appreciation for this part of the winemaking process.
This adventure was an excursion arranged through a local hiking group. (I did log almost three-quarters of a mile.)
For two hours on Monday morning we picked grapes on land owned by Jim and Nell Bremner at the intersection of Dayton Road, Durham-Dayton Highway, Aguas Frias Road and Ord Ferry Road in Durham. Although they bought the property in 2012, progress has been slow to transform the shuttered Mother’s 4 Corners. The plan is still to make it a coffee shop and event venue.
Behind the building are a couple acres of land, with one being planted with Pinot Grigio grapes. It was the job of the half dozen or so volunteers to pick the ripe grapes, put them in a bin, then dump them into larger containers that would be hauled off to be crushed into wine.
About 6,000 bottles were made last year using these grapes and others of the same varietal. Tony, who works for the Bremners, expects the yield to be about 20 percent less this year because of the lack of pruning done to the vines.
Some of the grapes already looked like raisins, so we left them on the vine or dropped them to the ground. We used our own pruning shears. First, we cleaned them in a bleach solution to ensure we didn’t contaminate the vineyard with something bad from our own gardens.
After our job was done the grapes were trucked to Almendra Winery in Durham to be crushed. They will be bottled under the Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards label.
My payment for a couple hours’ work was two bottles of the 2019 Pinot Grigio. Maybe I’ll save a bottle to see how it compares to “my” 2021 vintage.