Yesterday was quite a day - 30 tons of Montepulciano grapes later and all the grapes of 2014 are harvested! So the last harvest of 2014 - Montepulciano is complete!
It took about 7 hours. 7 joy filled hours of watching the fruits of our labor fall off the vine - actually they were shaken off by the Pellenc harvester! But no matter - they are headed to or already at the wineries - YEAH!
What a relief. We wondered if harvest would ever come this year! The clouds and rain just kept coming and caused harvest to be delayed as we waited for the grapes to ripen - the ups and downs of it all, the emotions, the realization that ultimately, no matter what we do, the Lord is in control.
We are thankful for a safe and bountiful harvest! The fist 20 tons of Montepulciano grapes were harvested last Saturday for Duchman, another 6 tons were harvested on Tuesday for Christoval and yesterday's 30 tons went to Perissos, Hye Meadow and McPherson Cellars. We are looking forward to some great wines!
In our effort to make harvest more efficient, we have begun to fill a single layer of grape bins which are on the truck and then place another layer of bins on top. The harvester continues harvesting and filling until both layers of the grape bins are filled.
The on-board bins of the Pellenc harvester can carry 3 tons ( 1 1/2 tons per side), so, depending on the yield of the grapevines, we empty the harvester at the end of the rows. But, this year, the Montepulciano yielded 11+ tons per acre and we had to empty the harvester not only at the ends of the rows but also in the middle turn row - it was great! The truck carrying the winery's bins is moved back and forth as the harvester dumps into them.
Once both layers of the bins on the truck are filled with grapes, it is driven to the barn where we process them - weighing, recording and loading into the reefer, a refrigerated 18 wheeler truck. As you can probably guess, everyone loves riding in the truck!
While the boys have mastered the Pellenc harvester, John has gotten adept at using the tele-handler which is a fork lift on steroids. I'm talking a massive piece of equipment capable of moving heavy weight! He can now easily lift two fully loaded bins (3ooo+ lbs) of grapes at a time.
He then moves the bins of Montepulciano onto the scale seen below (the grape bins are sitting on top of them) and finally loads them into the reefer. Moving two together saved time for us!
We made another change this week in an effort to make harvest even more efficient - we put the scales on the back of the reefer, weighing the bins right in the truck!
Once weighed, the bins are lifted up and loaded further into the 18 wheeler - the boom of the tele-handler can extend 15 - 20 ft. further into the truck. This cut out a lot of back and forth with the tele-handler and minimized the risk of dropping the loaded bins of grapes!
Below you can see the Montepulciano grapes hanging before harvesting - they really are that blue!
Now, the same vine after being harvested - it looks empty doesn't it?
The Pellenc harvester is turned on and off over the first and last plants of each row which means we still have some grapes to enjoy. Today's activity will be gleaning those grapes for final eating and home wine making!
So with the last harvest of 2014 - Montepulciano done it is time for us to get back to house work!