Friday, September 19, 2014

Harvest 2014: The Good, the Bad, and the Muy Feo.

"How's harvest going?," everyone asks.

"Good," I answer lamely.

I don't know what else to say. On one hand harvest time in the wine country is more blissful than a goddamn Maxfield Parrish painting. On the other hand I smell as bad as I look and I miss my family.

I recently caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror while either driving to or from work. I can't remember which because the sun is on the horizon both ways these days (cue violins). Regardless, it was a rough sight that needed help. That night I scheduled a haircut, did laundry, and put myself to bed early, but not before capturing a snapshot of my harvest induced splendor.

For reference, here's me a month ago:

And here's me today:

There are a number of things to note:

#1 - The hair. I've tried going ungroomed before with dreams of looking like Eddie Vedder in MTV's Unplugged, but I always just end up looking like a tall, oily Frodo Baggins

#2 - The eyes. Yikes. Is it the sleeplessness or the wine? It's both. I'm used to going days on little sleep, just not this many days. As for the wine consumption, it's not what you think. We do a lot of taste-as-you-go winemaking, and even when you spit (which believe it or not, we all do) you end up swallowing a half teaspoon or so every time and it adds up over the course of 12 hours. It's not enough at once to get you drunk, just enough to make you look like you woke up on the bathroom floor.

Also there's something weird about drinking fermenting wine, I think. The yeast are macro-biotic and the alcohol is anti-biotic and the war that rages within leaves its mark.

#3 - The scruff. I kinda dig it. Hey stranger.

#4 - The complexion. Nothing like acne to make you feel young again. The cause of this is the stress. I've done harvests before but they've never been stressful like this one because this is the first time I'm in charge of a crew of seven cellar workers all recently from Mexico.

(needle scratch?)

Hang on! I'm not being racist, hear me out. People recently from Mexico tend to speak Spanish. I think that's a fair generalization. If you take TWO people recently from Mexico, and find them in the throes of a heated and bitter argument because they're tired and frustrated after 3 weeks without a day off, they will only speak Spanish (rapidly and at a high volume) and it's my job now to manage their conflict.

My Spanish is coming along, but it is no where near the level of expressing nuanced concepts such as "active listening" and "cooperative peace building". When on the spot, the best I can muddle together are things like, "I understand, but your work is very good and all the people are sleepy". Not exactly inspiring. Being desperate to communicate and useless at it at the same time is impossibly frustrating ("Yeah? No shit." - Liam)

So to answer your question, yes...harvest is good, but don't come calling until I've had twelve hours sleep and as many beers.

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