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Night Harvest

Our Chardonnay Harvest is a wrap! We started picking on Tuesday, September 6th and finished just four days later. Each day at 4am, the vineyard team and I gathered at our shop, started the machine harvester and headed out to the block we planned to pick. At first, only our headlamps and the bright lights from the machinery light the way. It’s an incredible time of day. The cold brisk air, roaring engines, darkness all around us. I am anxious to start picking each season, but once we get going, I find that I’m calm. With each row, we have a sense of accomplishment. We’ve nurtured the vines over the entire year and now we see the bounty and results of our hard work.

It may be difficult to imagine what harvesting in the early morning is like, so Sandy, our in-house photographer, came out to try and capture some images. When she arrived, we had just finished a row, so we were offloading the Chardonnay from the harvester to the gondola pulled by the tractor Antonio was driving. Then Antonio was on his way to the winery where the cellar crew would happily greet him to start sorting the grapes.
Night harvesting at Hafner VineyardI invited Sandy to climb the ladder up to the cab to try and share with people the perspective that I see when picking. From my eye level, I am about two feet higher.
View from the Machine HarvesterThen we were off! On to pick another row.

Sandy raced around the vineyard to snap photos of us coming towards her. The headlights of the harvester are almost blinding!
Machine Harvester at NightHarvesting Chardonnay at Hafner Vineyard
By the time I got to her, the sun had started to peak over the hills, giving Sandy better lighting to capture us.Pellenc Machine Harvester at HafnerChardonnay Harvest at Hafner VineyardDavid Huebel driving the machine harvesterWhen I saw these photos, I was struck by how dramatic they are. Doing this for a living, I don’t notice how captivating and completely foreign the harvesting process can be. Hopefully I have helped to shed a little light into what we do starting at 4am during the Chardonnay harvest. Over the years, we’ve shared our thoughts (and videos!) on machine harvesting and the benefits of having our vineyard so close to our winery. I hope you enjoy them too. Stay tuned for more highlights from the red grape harvest! That is still a few weeks away and I can’t wait to get started.