I keep posting “numbers” that refer to our current grape harvest, but I realize that I haven’t shown you any “pictures” this year yet.

And the photos are the best part, right? Especially since I can’t tell you what any of those numbers on that screen mean, but I can show you some photographs. So here is what we do at harvest.

First you start with a harvester that has been well cleaned. This is the spot where is gets cleaned, so my son suggested that I might want to watch my step to avoid the washed off grapes.

Then you need someone to drive the harvester. That’s why I gave birth to eleven children because I figured that at least one of them might be talked into driving this contraption. It is a little harder to find one that will clean it up, but that’s just part of the job also.

Notice that it is morning and not the middle of the night. We usually harvest after it gets cool in the evening around 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm or very early in the morning say around 2:00 am or 3:00 am. It is really hard to get out of bed at those weird hours, so I haven’t taken too many photos this year. Plus it is just really hard to take pictures in the dark. So this day seemed just right for taking pictures of harvest. It was a cloudy, cool day with a chance of rain, so it was best to just get this batch of grapes out of the field.

Now the pickups show up hauling us some empty bins.

We reattach the bins on their trailers to smaller vehicles that can make it down the narrow rows.

When the harvester gets in place it lets out this long arm to take the grapes to the bins.

At this point in the game, I am just glad that I came with my boots on because I am riding on the top of the harvester hanging on with one hand and hanging on to my camera with the other hand. And let me tell you this, even if I gave birth to that harvester driver, he is concentrating on those grapes and not on me. I never know when it will start or stop, jerk or lurch and send me flying across the field. If the pictures are a little blurry or not the best angle, just be glad I’m still alive.

The arm gets positioned over the bin and away we go.

The harvester and the small tractor with the bin are both moving so they have to coordinate their driving speeds, so that the grapes fall into the bins and not on the ground. Not an easy task, but they do it pretty well.

The work has to be checked after going over the vines to make sure that everything is set for an optimal job.

These Vermentino grapes look optimal to me.

There are usually more people around checking things out from all angles.

Then when the bin is full, it takes off.

And we start on the next bin.

We usually have an assortment of helpers.

Then the bins go back on the pick-ups to be driven to the barn.

It really is a rather satisfying feeling seeing a full bin of grapes drive away.

This was really bothering me. I thought it was just me, but it bothered Kyle, who was driving, also. That yellow thing is a big magnet that is meant to catch any metal that mistakenly gets picked up. But the grapes were so thick that day that some were being caught up on top of the guard. I just hated to see those beautiful grapes not going into the bins. They were too far away to just brush in with my hand, so I just had to watch them ride along.

The grapes are shaken off the vines and collect in this smaller area till they are put out on the conveyor belt.

Beautiful grapes. That will be part 1 of grape harvest 2010; part 2 to come soon.



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