- July 24, 2017
Back in 1981, the year before we built the winery, Sarah and I had the wonderful opportunity to be interns in Burgundy, France. There we learned new techniques and gained a new perspective that has greatly influenced the winemaking style of Hafner Vineyard. In 1985, we received a request from a young French enology student (a friend of a friend) to work the harvest with us at Hafner Vineyard; thus began our internship program and friendships that now span generations.
This year’s “internship” has been an exceptional one. Some would say that we’ve been invaded, but we consider ourselves lucky. Today, we have three (yes, three!) adorable, hard working and very hungry French kids living with us.
Aymeric came in March and has spent the last four months improving his English, working in the cellar and building a fence with me. “Memic” as we have nicknamed him, is the son of our intern, Ludovic David (“Ludo”), who was our intern 27 years ago with whom we have been friends and colleagues ever since. We first met Aymeric when he was two. Now he is 17 and over the past four months has become part of our family. He is well-versed in making lattes, pizzas and Parkies (my signature cheese sandwich). For us, it is wonderful to see how he has grown and changed during his stay. As he remarked last week, “When I arrived, I could not grow a beard…now I can!”
Anna, who is 15, arrived three weeks ago. Her father, Guillaume Pouthier, was our intern 24 years ago and like Ludo, Guillaume is a very close friend who we see every couple of years. He also was Kate’s and Martin’s first boss in the wine industry. Guillaume graciously hired them to work the harvest at Chapoutier when he was the director of winemaking. Not only did Guillaume teach Kate and Martin the finer points of winemaking, but he also invited Grace to be the “au pair” for their two daughters, Anna and Flor. (I’m not sure how much “au pairing” Grace did, but she did learn how to shop!) Now Anna is here for a month to improve her English. She has worked in the winery, enjoyed a couple shopping excursions and charmed us all. Most importantly, she has learned the finer points of American cuisine—Lucky Charms, Reese’s peanut butter cups and In ‘n Out Burger!
Hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Aymeric, me, Grace, Kate, Martin, Anna, Annie and Millie)
Guillaume arrived a week ago. He is our official harvest intern and is in his third year at Ecole d’Ingénieurs de Purpan. As a student at Purpan, you must have a three-month internship in an English speaking country. Most all of our interns have been students at Purpan and Guillaume is our first second-generation harvest intern! (Ludo is his father and Aymeric is his younger brother.) This, however, is not Guillaume’s first internship here; in fact, he came two years ago, just after he finished high school. He was here for a month, worked on the bottling line and earned the nickname “Skipper”. It is wonderful to have Skipper back! His genuine smile, quick wit and hardworking nature makes work more enjoyable.
Hard at work shoveling compost
One of the pleasures of having interns is exploring California with them and seeing our country from a different perspective. Most of our adventures seem to revolve around hiking—hiking in the Sierras, hiking around Angel Island, hiking through Armstrong Woods, hiking to the top of our hill. It’s sort of like having a puppy…we try to wear them out!
Guillaume, me, Anna and Aymeric at Angel Island
Out at the Pacific Ocean near Timber Cove
Aymeric, Anna and Guillaume excited for their day's adventure
Evidence of a fun, yet exhausting day
As you might gather, our internship program is more than having an extra pair of hands at the winery. Our interns become an integral part of our family; they all have enriched our lives. As Grace once said, “the interns are my big brothers; I have 24 of them.” She now has 33.