Monday, October 31, 2011

Harvest Widow

Harvest Widow (n): Someone who has temporarily lost their significant other/spouse to harvest. Term used typically during the months of August through December during the harvest and fermentation of grapes in The Napa Valley.

For those in the wine business the harvest season can be full of uncertainty. One question lingers in the minds of many: will the wine be good? But for those whose loved one is a key player in the winemaking process the questions stray; will the grapes ripen in time? Is the winemaking team strong? What will my winemaker eat for lunch? Will he be home for dinner? Does he have clean socks?

I can attest that harvest means long days, longer weeks, and months that just seem to stack up. By the time harvest is over my household is thoroughly exhausted and frayed- were we supposed to pay our parents or thank our bills? No matter, we did neither.

Harvest is also a time of renewal; the house is often empty which I find both very quiet and strangely comforting. More than usual I get together with my girlfriends (fellow harvest widows), read the books I’ve been working on all year, take little mental vacations, deep clean the house, and plan our lives together after the harvest is over. Additionally, each year I indulge in a new project; this year I have taken up curing olives and making nocino- I will report back if my projects prove successful.

I’m a newlywed; it’s our first harvest as a married couple, but this is not my first rodeo. My concerns for my husband are the same as in harvests past: that he returns home safely each night, to this end I try to do my part- by being the rock upon which he leans. So, like my husband I make choices (and sacrifices) to do the best I can to make harvest pleasant for everyone involved. Sometimes it means visiting him at work and sometimes it means leaving him alone. This is a great time to practice patience and compassion.

The pains we suffer now while our winemakers, growers and pickers are off birthing another vintage are small when we remind ourselves that everyone is working towards the same goal: to make the best wines possible. Next year we will be toasting with a bottle of this vintage, looking back on the stresses that made it notable and all will seem a fuzzy distant memory as we will already be planning for the next harvest.

--Katy Long
Amazing. Wine Educator and Wine Slinger.

--Zachary Long
Director of Winemaking for Kunde Estate in Kenwood, Ca. and Proprietor of Jonas Cellars, Jonas Red Wine.

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