Working My First Harvest at Napa Valley’s St. Supery Vineyards & Estate

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St. Supery Winery

Arriving to St. Supery on a gorgeous fall day in Napa. I was beyond excited to work my first harvest.

I mean, are they the cutest, or what? I adore this welcome board.

My warm welcome from Winemaker Michael Scholz and his adorable little dog!

Looks like I’ve got a new friend. He wasn’t the only dog at the winery, which I adored as I am a dog lover. You’ll see more furry friends throughout my harvest experience.

This is where the magic starts! Literally, the grapes are first picked in the vineyard in the very, very early morning and then, that day, they are taken to the winery where they get unloaded and sorted.

The containers of grapes before they’ve gone through the sorter and are ready to go to barrel.

The sorting machine where the grapes are sorted upon arriving to the winery. The sorting machine takes one thousand pictures a second to determine which grapes to keep and which to discard. Not all St. Supery Wines use this sorting technique; Some of the higher end Estate Wines are hand sorted by team members to ensure the highest quality of grapes are selected for the vintage.

The lovely Assistant Winemaker, Brooke, who is amazing. She could not have been nicer in answering all of my questions and sharing her extensive knowledge with me.

Me and Brooke doing a wine tasting from the tank. The winemaking team tastes the wine daily to ensure it’s progressing the way they intend.

Brooke taking the wine’s temperature, another critical step done daily as the wine is being made.

The rolling of the wine barrels is done 6 times a day to extract everything from the skins. There are 76 barrels that get rolled daily, so quite a large job which was given to Ihan who was interning with St. Supery from Korea.

The tanks. As you can see, there is a lot of equipment required in winemaking.

The top of a tank before the punchdown started.

David, the Production Coordinator, getting the equipment ready for the punchdown

My dear friend Stephanie who works at St. Supery. A HUGE shout out to Stephanie and the team for hosting me. Without Stephanie’s invitation, I would have never been able to experience a harvest with the St. Supery team. Thanks again Stephanie and the entire St. Supery team for having me visit and for giving me the opportunity to share this once in a lifetime experience with my readers.

The punchdown taking place.

It is time to put me to work. I was given the task of filling these buckets and putting the grapes into a barrel to hit the exact weight of 350 pounds.

I was laughing as I began the job until I quickly realized this was HARD work. For anyone with a bad back- be warned, dumping grapes into this barrel is not an easy task. I can say that I proudly filled one barrel of Petit Verdot and in approximately two years when it’s released I will proudly say I helped make the 2016 St. Supery Petit Verdot vintage.

Me and Juan Vega weighing the barrel to ensure that it was exactly 350 lbs. Yay, I passed the first barrel test!

The barrels filled with 350 lbs of Petit Verdot and ready to be sealed by Juan.

After filling a barrel the lid then needs to be put on. Luckily, St. Supery’s team member Juan Vega (shown below) has been certified by the official barrel company  certification group so he’s able to secure all the winery barrels himself. Not every winery has a team member with this certification so it’s really helpful during harvest to have this done in house.

Checking out the lab where all the magic happens.

The entire St. Supery Winery is very dog friendly which is pretty awesome. Two of my favorite things, wine and dogs. I think I could work here every day…

Possibly the most relaxing part of the day, lunch with stunning vineyard views. The team was all very friendly at lunch mingling and hanging out before going back to work. Typically during harvest, the days and nights (remember the wine doesn’t sleep while we’re sleeping) are very long and it’s an intense 3-4 month process, so people enjoy the down time between the hard work.

Cheers to St. Supery for allowing me to join your team on my first harvest. Hopefully I passed and will be invited back for the 2017 harvest!

 

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