Grape Harvest Begins

FIRST PICK

The 2016 grape harvest season is officially here. Mumm Napa, the Rutherford-based sparkling wine producer, began picking Napa Valley’s first grapes at 5:45 a.m. on July 28. That means there’s no rest over the next three months for winemakers, vineyard crews and “cellar rats,” who rise before the sun — or work through the night.

As the sun rose over Green Island Vineyard, the grape pickers were a blur of motion, working rapidly to harvest 20.4 tons of pinot meunier grapes, which arrived at the winery by midmorning. After a ceremonial blessing of the grapes for good luck, they were pressed, and the juice went into tanks to ferment into wine — and you can see it all, from the harvest to the crush, the sabering of a sparkling wine bottle and the showers of celebratory bubbly via video at www.mercurynews.com/eat-drink-play.

Even though harvest happens at breakneck speed, converting the juice into bubbly doesn’t. Mumm Napa winemaker Ludovic Dervin says the process takes about three years. It’s “a labor of love,” he says, that takes time and, yes, patience.

With thanks and acknowledgement to the East Bay Times for this article.

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