Adventures in Truck Driving

I really hoped to have more updates as we harvested, but the reality of 12-15 hour days set in quickly. I fell asleep at a friends house Saturday night watching the Sharks game with a glass of Port in my hand.

In all I think we put 700 miles on rental trucks and probably another 500 on our own cars these past two weeks. As I was driving over Highway 17 Friday, I started to think about Stefania’s late father, Lt. Cl. Fred Von Gortler. He was a career Army officer, and I thought about something they teach at the War College. The saying is “Amateurs talk about strategy and tactics, professionals talk about logistics.”

Last year I said the key thing I learned for the season was how important leadership and a chain of command is in a winery. This year my leason was: “It’s all about logistics.”

Basically you make your wine making plans well in advance. I keep my options open though, and make choices based on the fruit as it comes in and we start to work with it. It all comes down to logistics though. You have to have everything in place, and move everything around effectively to make your choices happen. If the fruit is low in BRIX, you need to have the lower BRIX yeast at the winery already. You think the fruit needs destemming after tasting the stems, you better have the destemmer clear. You want the best fruit in the state, you better know how to drive a truck.

These harvest weeks really come down to how effectively you can manage the logistics of moving fruit around. I think that was really clear to me on Saturday as I worked with Bill and Ted at Uvas Creek to load the truck, and a couple of homewinemakers stood by. They wanted to talk about what yeast I would use, if I’d cold soak, what kind of barrels I had, and all the little details. I didn’t have time to shoot the breeze, all those options where already planned for, I just needed to move the fruit and make it happen, I had to get on the scales by noon.

Amateurs talk yeast and cold soaks , professionals talk trucks and bins. That’s the key thing I learned this year.