From today at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Sonma: Freshly pulled grapes. Some of the best images and videos are produced by the Jordan team.
From today at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Sonoma: Freshly pulled grapes. Some of the best images and videos are produced by the Jordan team.

Although I’m miles away from the action itself, here in Silicon Valley, I can thankfully enjoy the magic that is harvest, happening in wine regions across the country thanks to social media.

Images of late night vineyard activity (much of it happening well past midnight), especially in Sonoma and Napa, light up my Facebook feed, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites here. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps it’s no truer then when admiring this most mysterious and artistic — if not sweat and thirst inducing — of processes.

Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it. ~ Anonymous

The photos, usually featuring dramatic shadows, and spotlights lighting up rows of foggy vines, remind me that wine-making is hard, labor-intensive work. Aside from actually pulling the grapes themselves, and then de-stemming and crushing them, there’s punch down for red wine (ensuring the grape skins and fermented juice remain mixed), followed by scientific fermentation techniques. But beyond all the technical aspects, these photos often showcase the collective that is the wine-making process in action. I can only imaging the late-night adrenaline-charged celebrations happening after a long evening shift … as they so often say “it takes a lot of beer to make good wine.” A lot.

I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food. ~ W.C. Fields

One of those much-discussed topics in Napa is when to pick the grapes. This year, from what I understand, it’s happening about two weeks earlier – though that can depend on the variety. Crush will happen around October/November. Quick tip: it’s one of the best times to visit wine country. That unmistakable smell of fresh grapes is in the air. Combined with the most temperate of weathers — still sunny, but cooling — can make for memorable, pinch-me awesome, weekend getaways. For those in the SF Bay Area, your quick escape from PowerPoint is merely 60-90 minutes away.

IN PHOTOS: Wine Harvest 2012

The scene at Pine Ridge Vineyards along the Silverado Trail in Napa.
Sunrise view of Napa Valley from the top of Spring Mountain. Photo: Mary Orlin.
At Robert Mondavi Winery, grapes await blessing – an annual ritual.
Ed Thralls, winemaker at Thralls Family Cellars.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena.
“Not so pretty, but this is what’s left after the juice has been extracted.” – Wente Vineyards.
Testing sugars at Wente in Livermore: “We take 40 random clusters from each block, crush them by hand and then test the juice for the sugar percentage.”
From Duckhorn Vineyards: “The vineyard crew goes nocturnal during harvest, picking starts between 1 to 3 AM so the grapes arrive at the winery in the early morning hours. Today we picked Merlot from our Rector Creek Vineyard.”
Do not adjust your iPad, this is not a promo for Woody Allen’s latest film. From Ehlers Estate in Napa: Interns (Pamela from Argentina and Xabier from Spain) working hard at cleaning out the fermentation tanks.
Corison Winery: Destemmer and bins being washed on the crush pad .
Oops… a different kind of harvest. And definitely a sure-fire way to ruin your neatly pressed suit.

I like my wine like my women…ready to pass out. ~ Robin Williams

Have any good photos from Harvest 2012 you’d like to share? Send them to

THIS JUST IN from Joseph Phelps Vineyards:

The scene at Joseph Phelps Vineyards: A grape workout.
Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear