10 Things I Learned Working Harvest

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Did you know that wineries produce an entire year’s wine vintage in just a two month window of grape harvesting? If mother nature doesn’t cooperate, the fruit isn’t picked at the right time, or we get off schedule, things might go awry.

Because of that, Union Wine Company (and most wineries around the world) hire Harvest Interns, the miracle workers that help ensure our harvest runs smoothly. Working directly alongside our winemakers and our production team, this year’s team of 30 Harvest Interns have watched fruit turn to wine (and everything in between).

We asked Sarah Richins, Union Wine Company Harvest Intern, to tell us all about her harvest experience. Without further ado, we’ll let Sarah take it from here.

I started at Union Wine Company last month to work my first ever harvest. We have interns from Chile, Brazil, South Africa, and even Ireland – it is amazing to hear people’s stories and what drew them to working a harvest in Oregon.

Since I started, I have gone from terrified of driving a forklift to operating all kinds of machinery like a pro, I have dug out a tank full of grapes in less than three hours, and I have newfound respect for how much work it takes to craft the perfect Pinot.

Here’s some more things I have learned while crushing the 2018 harvest.

  1. I am way stronger than I think.
  2. Forklifting is like riding a bike – you have to keep practicing, and after you haven’t been on it for a while you can pick it up again (sometimes after a few failed attempts).
  3. Getting dirty is fun, and definitely part of the process – so get ready and always bring a change of clothes.
  4. It’s always important to ask for help. You have to know what you’re doing first in order to execute it properly later.
  5. Staying up until 3AM with coworkers is OK – we all need nights out to dance away to 60s/70s funk. Plus, we work the swing shift, so 3AM is the new 10PM.
  6. Food tastes better after working a harvest. The amount of food I consume now is the same as when I was training for a marathon.
  7. There is no bond like a harvest shift bond. Nothing beats co-workers turned friends.
  8. It’s okay if you have a bad day where nothing seems to be going right – we ALL have those days. Just remember that it will get better and keep your attitude high.
  9. I am even more obsessed with wine than I was before and can’t wait to continue to learn and grow in this field.
  10. Your hands will be dyed purple forever – get used to it.

If you want to learn more about the winemaking process, or just want a killer upper body, I highly recommend working a harvest at Union Wine Co. I can guarantee you will never take happy hour for granted again.

Editor’s Note: if you are interested in working next year’s harvest, please contact ellie@unionwinecompany.com. 

 

Grilled Pizza Cook-off 2.0

There is a tradition at Union Wine Company that involves two tenacious competitors and a heck of a lot of dough. It rolls around every 2-3 years, similar to snowfall in Portland, and like snow after a month of solid rain, it is warmly welcomed by all.

We’re talking about the (Sometimes) Bi-annual Grilled Pizza Cook-Off. The humble but hardy contestants include Ryan Harms, our owner, and JP Caldcleugh, our winemaker. JP took the cake in the last cook-off, and after a couple years of regrouping, Ryan was ready for a comeback.*

Each contender put a lot of heart into their homemade dishes. Ryan devised a signature sauce with hand torn tomatoes that kept us coming back for slice…after slice…after slice. JP concocted a prosciutto pie that featured pizza’s best friend: basil, fresh from the Amity Vineyards garden.

As per tradition, the entire Union team gathered in the winery parking lot to do the real hard work – judging the pizzas. Everyone loves a good comeback story, and in true Hollywood fashion this year’s pizza crowning went to Ryan.

However, with full bellies and faces adorned in post-pizza glow, it was agreed that we all truly won the grilled pizza cook-off.

*Or, our Director of Finance Eric was just in the mood for pizza.

 

Photography by David L. Reamer

Chefs’ Week PDX

PunchCan_1 This past February we were a part of the second annual Chefs’ Week PDX, a four day dinner and party series that brings together some of the best west coast chefs, local artisans and purveyors to celebrate community and creative  collaboration. Some of the highlights for our team: working with our friend Gregory Gourdet to create a delicious canned punch wine, tasting through some spectacular modern cuisine by all chefs at Ataula, watching the reactions of guests as Chef Aaron’s Pot au Fue’s were set down on each table,  Chef Doug’s elk leg at Nedd Ludd, and the gastronomical spectacle that is a 26 course meal finale put on by all chefs involved at Departure. We are proud to be a part of a city that can offer both the resources and creative genius to put together this kind of event, and give a huge round of applause to Gregory Gourdet, Carrie Kissell, and Drew Tyson for making it all happen.

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Photography by Julia Saltzman

 

Tasting Truck Build Out

Our Citroën H-van has been spending its evenings with another crew.  The good folks over at Orange PDX  took a few slabs of old barn wood and some steal to create an amazing build out for our tasting truck. Thanks Orange for letting us roam around and capture some behind the scenes moments and Wendy Etter for the great design.  We look forward to seeing you all at our weekend home on SE Division and 33rd!

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Monthly Cocktail : Mint-Basil Slush

We are having a hard time believing it’s already August! The hot months of summer are almost behind us, but until then lets raise a glass to this last month of river dipping, tent pitching and backyard drinking. This month’s cocktail is a Mint-Basil Slush. The dry sweetness of our Kings Ridge Riesling and the savory basil leaves create the perfect balance. Enjoy!

 Serves 2

3 oz. 2013 Kings Ridge Riesling
3 oz.  Vodka (we enjoy Reyka) 
2 oz. St. Germain
1 oz. Simple Syrup
5 Basil Leaves
3 Mint Leaves
Around 10 Ice cubes (depends on the blender)

Simply place all of the above ingredients in a blender, pour your cocktail into a glass and then go back to enjoying the rest of summer!

Photography + Recipe
Julia Saltzman

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AugustC_3AugustC_1Photography by Julia Saltzman