The 2011 harvest has begun! It’s been a fairly slow start, but that gives us an opportunity to ease in to the season (and a little more time to scramble and finish up our summer projects!).

Sauvignon blanc is typically the first varietal we pick, once the berries have reached 23 degrees Brix or so, depending on the preferences of the individual winemakers and wineries we sell them to.

This particular block of Sauvignon Blanc is from the Osborn Ranch and headed to Ferrari-Carano. We’ll start picking this at 4am tomorrow morning for immediate delivery to the winery at 7am.

We use a machine to harvest them at night when the temperatures are cooler, so the skins of the berries are as firm as possible. This prevents the grapes from becoming overly soft, so we deliver berries to the winery and not juice.

Our machine, appropriately named a “harvester”, is hard at work!

The berries are picked into a gondola that rides alongside the harvester as you can see in the picture above. Once filled, each gondola is loaded onto the trailer by forklift until the trailer is full (or there are no berries left to pick) and transported to the winery.

Each trailer holds five gondolas and each of these can hold approximately two tons of grapes. The truck can haul two trailers at once and up to 25 tons at a time.

As referenced in our earlier blog post, “Predictions for a light year” the sauvignon blanc crop is turning out to be well below the average. We’re hopeful the chardonnay will be better than expected to ease the pain a little. Wish us luck!