6:15 a.m. alarm. Seth Miller, one of the vineyard managers picked me up at 7:00. It was a dry and cool morning, perfect for the task ahead. Tanager is owned by Ken’s brother and sister-in-law so this was a special morning for them-the first harvest of their new vineyard. It typically takes at least 3 years for a new vineyard to produce fruit and this was the year. There were about 12 us picking, a combination of employees, family, and contractors. It went quickly and when complete, the bins of grapes were transfered to the winery for sorting.
We sorted on a shorter line than what will be used for the full harvest. It was a little crazy as the sorting table shook–a little disorienting. Grapes dump down a shoot onto the sorting table and 5 of us quickly worked through them, looking for rot (mold) and clusters with too many grapes that weren’t fully ripened, which were discarded.
As the grapes are sorted, they are pushed onto a conveyor that takes them to the de-stemming mechanism. From there they go into a vat to cool before being moved to the fermenter. As I mentioned, Tanager is a new vinyeard. The pick was even smaller than hoped, mostly because of the voracious appetites of the birds that had been picking over the past few days. Ken estimated that the vineyard yielded about 1,200 pounds of fruit.
After clean up, work was complete for the day. Ken and Karen had graciously invited me to join them for dinner with friends in Portland, so I still had something to anticipate! 10 of us congregated at Ringside Fish House and enjoyed a fabulous dinner, a wonderful conclusion to my week in Oregon Wine Country.