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Harvest Q&A: Rituals, Traditions and Superstitions

From wearing the same clothes to throwing a glass of Champagne in the tank to end-of-harvest parties, winemakers share their secrets about crush

Wine Spectator staff
Posted: October 15, 2010

As harvest in the northern hemisphere progresses, Wine Spectator checked in with winemakers from around the world to ask them about harvests past and present. In this three-part series, we excerpt some of their funniest and most surprising responses to our questions. In part 3, we asked:

Are there any rituals, superstitions or practices you perform during the harvest?

Carol Shelton, Carol Shelton Wines, California's Sonoma County: I refuse to get the car washed from the end of August until harvest is complete—superstitious, I guess … We have cellar crew largely made up of volunteers, so we always have a big lunch each crush day to thank everyone for coming out to spend the day helping us. We usually do big tri-tip barbecue lunches. Our new Weber really rocks—6 burners, night lights, the works! We always have a big TGCIO (Thank-God-Crush-Is-Over) party, too, and everyone gets a t-shirt to commemorate their hard work.

Justin Smith, Saxum, California's Paso Robles: I have a lucky black shirt, from Domaine Tempier, I've worn it for every important event! Bottling, first day of harvest, I'm not sure how lucky it is after relating the harvest hornet story, but maybe it was the shirt’s luck that kept things from being worse!

Diana Snowden Seysses, Snowden Vineyards, California's Napa Valley: I haven’t washed or re-worn the boxers I wore when I jumped in our tank of Chambertin for the first time.

Francesco Ricasoli, Barone Ricasoli, Italy’s Tuscany: We have a big dinner barbecue with the pickers and everyone. We cook everything ourselves, play games and we have dancing. It’s an ancient tradition they used to do on the property, but then lost. So we brought it back in 1994 or ’95 in one of my first vintages at the property. Now there are lots of nationalities working together, so it has become a gastronomic themed event. We have foods from everyone’s cultures. We’ve had Tunisian food, Romanian. This year we have nine different nationalities working so it should be interesting.

Christophe Baron, Cayuse Winery, Washington's Walla Walla Valley: The first tank that we crush, at the end of the day, we open a bottle of Champagne from my mom and my dad’s estate. We share it with the crew, and the we throw a glass of Champagne into the tank.

Augustus Weed, MaryAnn Worobiec, Stephanie Cain and Robert Taylor contributed to this report.

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