The harvest season is coming to a close, and most grape growers are breathing a sigh of relief. Those who have allowed some red-wine grapes to hang on the vine longer to enhance flavors may want help getting the last clusters picked, crushed and put in fermentation tanks.
Sometimes, they welcome novice pickers. More than cutting costs, it educates consumers about what it takes to produce wine, and the hard work can be entertaining.
Dallas Hymans and his wife, Sidney Morrison, who own A Street Animal Clinic in Ashland, recently picked merlot and tempranillo grapes at a friend's vineyard near Emigrant Lake.
"Harvesting grapes was on my bucket list," Hymans said at a lunch afterward in which bottles of past vintages were opened to reward volunteers.
Professional growers hire seasoned crews to harvest, but occasionally wineries save a few blocks for wine-club members and others to test their pruning skills and slope-standing stamina.
For years, Weisinger's of Ashland has invited volunteers to harvest gewürztraminer, pinot noir and tempranillo vines, then treat them to dinner and wine at the tasting room, 3150 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland (www.weisingers.com).
This year, "we picked everything in about four hours," manager Robert Trottmann said. "It's an incredible outpouring of kindness. People do it out of a sense of community and to connect to the land. Fresh air and hard work are good for the soul."
Anyone interested in being added to Weisinger's volunteer list for next year can email Robert@weisingers.com. "The more the merrier," he said.
Abacela Vineyard and Winery in Roseburg has a Harvest Boot Camp Oct. 26-27 ($25 pays for your lunch and lessons). Enroll by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or call your favorite winery to see if there is a need for harvest helpers.
— Janet Eastman