The spring left us with high hopes for the year, everything about it was a breeze. That was until the summer started to creep it’s way into our happy thoughts and positive outlook. It all happened kind of slowly at first, the vines were all beautiful, neat and orderly green rows covering the rolling hills as spring left us. There were some beautiful contrasting browns as you looked out into the vineyards and saw the buckeyes swaying in the summer wind. It was a sight to see until we realized that it was only a little ways into summer and the buckeyes shouldn’t have dried up yet. At that moment, the summer from hell started to creep in a little more. The leaves began o fall off the buckeyes as the weeks flew by and soon enough the trees looked as if it were the middle of winter, frail and empty, the very last leaf that hung on for dear life finally fell to the grund after just a few hot weeks. The ground began to dry to the point where there was nothing left to hold back the wind from taking it and moving it where it wanted. Everything became coated in dust and that didn’t change for a long while. The nice cool nights began to stay warm, not one living thing could catch a break not even to cool off at night. The water underground became dry and many of the ranches began to lose all water access. Lack of water made it very difficult for us to farm the way we like to. When you looked at a grape cluster at some ranches it would make you take a double take, the berries were just small. There was no other way to put it, the berries were significantly smaller this year which made the tonnages a lot less than they’ve been in the past. All these things started to pile up, one thing after another made it hard for Stephen and his company to stay positive. All that had blended together so smoothly in the winter and spring seemed to be falling apart as the days passed on. The anxiety grew, as did the hot summer days. Then harvest started, it started slowly at first and the anxiousness seamed to subside for a while. Then came the rush, just as we put on our bird netting, sugars exploded and we were harvesting. As we were picking grapes we were also taking down the netting that had just gone on.
This all flew through Steve’s head, the crews, the trucks, ranches that needed to be picked. All that was happening whirled through his mind, his nights became sleepless as the crews became short and truckers were sparse. Steve had to resort to night harvesting and this left him with even less sleep than he was getting before. As the summer days passed he also had to think about all that needed to be done in the fall, what were the cover crops going to be this year, what vineyards were going to need fertilizing, what would he do differently next year to improve quality. Then out of nowhere the rain decided to make an appearance and the dry summer vegetation came alive and the smells in the air were fresh and new. The soils let out a smell that had been missed and all life began to sing. On this day Stephen realized that all the craziness was going to pass, he was in a whirlwind called harvest and it felt as if he had been lifted into a tornado and wasn’t sure how long until he would be dropped down. He wasn’t even sure where he would land but he looked forward to that thought that the rain brought him. He knew that sooner or later it would all be over and he would be back to doing what he loved, cruising form ranch to ranch, walking the vineyards that depended on him to keep them going. His love for the vines would get him through harvest and he would be right back to where he belonged in no time. In the Vineyard nothing lasts forever, the green will fade away, just like it does every year and the journey to next years harvest will begin again. Much like life, the journey through the year with the vines has it’s ups and downs. You never know what your going to get and when your going to get it but there is one thing you know for sure; the vines will always keep you guessing and you will always be learning from them. It is what you do with the your experiences that matters in the end.