First days of harvest share a lot in common with first days of school: a beautiful autumn day, new clothes and footwear, the excitement of seeing old acquaintances, the ceremonial first photo… and that they all start to blur together.
My first harvest, however? That is one that you never forget. I showed up on the doorstep at Fox Run Vineyards in early October 2009, just a handful of days into their Chardonnay picking. I was dressed sharply, under the impression it would be a business interview, and immediately found myself thrown on the crush pad with a broom and a shovel by the irascible Peter Bell. I loved it, and started showing up every day just to be a part of the magic. I remember it as being a sun-dappled and thrilling experience through and through. There was so much to learn and see, new friends to make, invigorating work, and fun music blasting late into the evening. It was everything I could have hoped for, and it hooked me for life.
That last part is, as it turns out, not so insignificant. In the years since I have seen many interns experience their first – and last – harvest. In wine production, there is a common sentiment that the first harvest makes or breaks someone; either you thrill to the work and pace, or you find it overwhelming or too grueling. No judgement is attached to that, it is just a reality of determining whether wine cellar work is a good fit or not. (And frankly, how many of us wish we could have found that out about a career path in 6 well-paid weeks?) Fortunately for me, it was love at first sight.