As one of the winners of Murphy-Goode’s “A Really Goode Job” campaign, I’m excited to share my experiences as a wine industry newbie, starting with the first few months after we arrived in beautiful Sonoma County and began our work in harvest while shadowing winemaker Dave Ready Jr. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to learn the entire winemaking process from the ground up, which means starting with harvest.
Things i learned during my time in harvest
Harvest is one of the most crucial seasons in the wine industry. In California, harvest typically falls around August/September and lasts through the end of November. Every day that Veronica and I spent in the winery, introduced us to new key elements of the winemaking process, so I am sharing some of the most important things I learned while working harvest for Murphy-Goode.
Working harvest is a team sport
As a former cheerleader, my best reference to my experience during harvest would be that the Winemaker is the coach, and the rest of us are the team. Working harvest at the winery felt like I was back on a cheerleading team getting ready for nationals, but this time, the championship title was a producing great wine. Everyone at the facility working together for one common goal meant that when challenges came up, every single person was ready to rise to the occasion. It probably goes without saying, but tons of grapes, loud machinery, constant moving parts, are all a constant in the workings of a winery, day in and day out. During harvest there is so much communication that is necessary to keep all operations moving as smoothly as possible, so after just the first few days of learning the daily tasks, I realized very quickly that you must be ready to jump into any position that is needed on any given day. Not only did that make every day different and exciting, but it forced me to challenge myself by making sure I was ready for anything. And if I wasn’t ready? Anyone I asked was happy to teach me or show me the ropes, because at the end of the day, we were a team.
Sustainability practices begin in the winery
Sustainability is a HUGE factor in the wine industry. With the intensity of the growing climate change threat, also comes ways to combat it in our everyday lives and professions. An example of this is something I learned while working harvest, which is how important it is to keep all winey equipment from tanks to barrels and even your boots – completely clean. Obviously, using and excess of water during a drought is very frowned upon so, a solution to this includes even the simplest practice of spraying down a tank from the top so the water works its way down. Keeping small practices like that in mind every day, allows the winery to do their part in protecting the environment. I don’t know about you, but to me, knowing this makes my bottle of Murphy-Goode wine taste that much better.
The importance of injury prevention
One of the “A Really Goode Job” requirements included being able to lift at least 50 pounds, and for good reason. Wineries consist of various pieces of heavy equipment – hoses to transport grapes, large bags of ingredients to preserve the health of the wine throughout the entire fermentation process, pumps that you have to be strong enough to pick up and move over those hoses – you get the picture. Because of this, the chances of getting an injury while working in a winery are very high, but only if you’re not careful. Before starting work every morning, the whole team got together to stretch and warm up before anything else. This was a crucial activity that the winery took very seriously. Not only did this help with everyday injury prevention, but it also helped with the random sore muscles I’d wake up with that seemingly came out of nowhere! It was also incredibly important to always be dressed properly, gloves, high-visibility vests, and the right shoes are all important factors in preventing injury, especially during harvest. Just like anything in life, accidents happen, but making sure to control what you can, will always greatly reduce those chances!