It begins again!
Every year we go through the harvest season. We know that every harvest there will be challenges but we try to plan as much as possible, train our team as best we can and hope that in the end it all works out ok.
In the midst of planning for this year’s harvest, it occurred to me that the processing of farm products is a critical part of our survival. Our ancestors had to learn how to process and preserve the harvest to feed their families and communities over the long winter months. Sometimes the cost can seem questionable. For example, I have always been amazed that on larger farms, a packing house will sit dormant for 11 months a year. The reality is that for one month during harvest the processing plant is essential for the success of that farm. Similarly, we just purchased a $23,000 press to help us process our fruit better and more efficiently. This machine will be used for only 2 months out a year, which doesn’t sound very efficient or cost effective. Yet it truly is, because it enable us to increase both our yield and quality.
With the exception of honey, and some root crops like potatoes and onions that don’t require as much processing, all farm crops need to be preserved in some manner to carry us through until the next harvest season. Think about the saucing, curing, freezing, drying, fermenting, milling and canning for different crops. Scientists research how to help farmers and processors preserve flavor, maximize nutrition and extend shelf life of these products.
Remember that all the food and the many jobs associated with the harvest have their foundation in farming. We will always need people to farm, land to farm and a commitment from our leaders to keep agriculture a priority. I did not grow up in a farming family but I have certainly embraced the vocation over the years. I always remind people that the main ingredient in farming is the energy from the sun, but we also need clean and plentiful water, nutrients, fertile soil and air flow, as well as management of bad bugs, weeds and diseases.
Okay, I am back to talking about wine again.
The fermentation process in wine production and preservation occurs naturally. Of course, many folks look at winemakers as magicians with the ability to transform grapes into a magical potion called wine. I will never claim that much credit but I do recognize that our job can be challenging and almost magical at times. The coordination of all the factors of a harvest: grapes, barrels, fermentation temperatures, harvesting labor, winery labor, more hours in the day please, good weather, trucks, bins, and many more things that all need attention and scheduling. The harvest is starting soon and there is a lot of great potential hanging on the vine. All we really need to do as winemakers is not screw it up!
Written by: Doug Fabbioli