Harvest: How to Rock When it’s “Go-time”

The tanks are scrubbed, the winery equipment tested (and re-tested). Pristine, power-washed grape bins line the end of the crush pad, quietly waiting for Cabernet Sauvignon clusters. Eager interns, brimming with fresh energy and enthusiasm, learn the ropes from an experienced winemaking team. And in the kitchen, cabinets are stocked to the max with enough coffee and snacks to feed a small army.

All systems are “go” for harvest.

Nate Weis, director of winemaking
Nate Weis, Director of Winemaking for Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars

We recently sat down with our Director of Winemaking, Nate Weis, to talk about how he and his team get ready for harvest, the late August – October season when grapes are picked and crushed. The period is known for its long hours and days, when vineyard and winemaking teams often work seven days a week at Mother Nature’s beck and call. And yet, as Nate shares, it’s the time of year he looks forward to the most. A time that is exhilarating and filled with an infectious energy.

Whether you’re preparing to pick grapes (we’re guessing no) or getting ready for an especially busy season in work or life, Nate’s harvest insights will get you in the right frame of mind to knock your go-time out of the park.

  1. If it’s not your favorite time of year, that’s a problem. You have to love harvest, embrace it, get energized by it. If you’re not, it’s time to find another line of work.

  2. Learn to be flexible. Those grapes that looked like they were coming in three days? They’re ready now. Have contingency plans – and staff – in place to keep up with unexpected changes.

  3. Accept things that are out of your control. In our world, you can stress about the weather – but that’s time and energy wasted.

  4. Be decisive when needed. Communicate quickly and easily with your team. A five minute meeting is all you need to get everyone set for the day. (Pre-planning is key here – make sure everyone has clearly delineated roles and responsibilities before things get busy.)

  5. Know when to punt. If something isn’t working, cut your losses and move on.

  6. Don’t let the “what ifs” get you. We’re in the educated guess business. Nothing is ever for certain. Be thorough, but don’t get caught in the weeds.

  7. Be spontaneous with family time. Time with the fam is precious. When you get that unexpected break, do something special. Treat the kids out to pizza, go see a movie, or grab a quick date with your significant other.

  8. It takes time to wind-down. Nate laughs that “For three weeks after harvest, I’m the most efficient person ever. At work and at home, I can’t sit still and have to keep busy doing something.” Whether you’re hit by a burst of energy at the end of the season or ready to sleep for a week, expect it to take a few weeks for your body – and your life – to get back to “normal.”

Harvest will kick-off for Silver Oak in September. (Update: harvest officially started on September 4). Follow along on our blog and via our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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