10 Things I Learned Working Harvest

saraintern

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. 

 

Underwood Pinot Cranberry Sauce

pinot sauce

Here in Portland, colored leaves are taking over every street, evening walks are starting to require a puffy, and after almost two months, harvest is almost complete.

You know what that means? Pinot Noir season is officially here!

(Editor’s Note: even though we drink Pinot Noir year-round, our Oregon staple just feels right during the colder months).

So when you’re pouring that glass for yourself tonight, consider saving some for this delicious cranberry sauce. It is easy enough for a weeknight hors d’oeuvre, yet delicious enough to serve alongside at Thanksgiving dinner. Warning: may cause double dipping.

Underwood Pinot Cranberry Sauce

12 oz fresh or frozen Cranberries
¾ Cup Underwood Pinot Noir
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cinnamon Stick (1 – 1½ inches)
1 tsp grated Ginger
Zest of one Orange
1/8 tsp ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground Allspice
1/4 tsp of kosher salt

Combine cranberries, Underwood Pinot Noir, and sugar into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients, stirring occasionally until cranberries begin to pop. After about 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and break up berries with a wooden spoon. The consistency should become a thick jam-like sauce. Stir a couple more times, remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Can be served cold or reheated.

Tip from our crew:  When we made this sauce for a winery happy hour, we paired it with Chèvre atop crackers and it was as gone in seconds.

adding wine

Photography by Emily Triggs

I’ll Have What She’s Having

underwood wine coolers feast

On September 13th, 2018, we blasted back to the past for Feast Portland: 80s vs 90s. Feast Portland is one of the nation’s most beloved food & drink festivals, and is where we introduced our Underwood wine in a can back in 2013.

If you know us, you know we’re not afraid to mix our wines with other quality ingredients to create new wine drinking experiences.  We debuted our Riesling Radler wine cooler in 2017, but for Feast, we wanted to take things up a notch and and create a lineup of special wine coolers exclusive for the event.

Our enologist, Jeb, was up to the challenge and may or may not have cracked a few Zima’s to inspire the brainstorming process. After some trial & error, we landed on two limited edition wine coolers: the Ecto Cooler and Wu-Tang.

menu for wine coolers wine cooler lineup

The Ecto Cooler was questionably green, but don’t let that fool you – its taste was reminiscent of Hi-C, and the Feast attendees couldn’t get enough of it. It was the first keg we emptied and quickly became the drink everyone kept coming back for. Our other special edition wine cooler, Wu-Tang, was an effervescent version of the time-honored Fuzzy Navel that tasted just like a peach ring, but better. These wine coolers were served alongside What She’s Having (our Strawberry Cooler, temporarily rebranded) and the Cosmo Cooler (our Riesling Radler). 2,700+ pours later, our kegs, and our Union Wine Co. staff bartenders, were exhausted.

wine cooler

We decked out our space with 80s and 90s ‘antiques’, or should we say, priceless relics borrowed from our Marketing Ops Manager Joan’s basement.

underwood wine

As we brainstormed what Union Wine Co. would’ve been like if it was around in the 80s or 90s, we thought: weren’t we there all along?

 

Feast Portland, thanks for letting us relive our glory days. We’re still on cloud nine, and will continue to rock our canny packs around the Industrial Chateau – why did they go out of style, again?

dacn pinot noir underwood feast photo booth

 

feast

Photography by Adam Wickham

Short Strokes

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For when you need something a little stronger than a Pumpkin Spice Latte, we worked with Portland barkeep Ansel Vickery to create a cocktail for a cozy night in.

Short Strokes

2.5 oz Underwood Rosé

.75 oz fresh lemon juice

.75 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch

1 teaspoon 2:1 simple syrup

4 short dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients, shake and strain into a glass. Add 1 oz soda water, ice to fill, lemon twist and a cherry to garnish.

cocktail

rose

About the Bartender

Ansel Vickery tends bar at Free House, where the quality of the cocktail program has made it one of the top spots of the service industry folks. The cocktails Ansel likes to drink (and subsequently make) are big, juicy and fun, which mimics the way he approaches his job in general. For Ansel, life and beverages should be fun, and loud, and big, and dark, and sorta crazy. Go check them, and him, out to see for yourself.

ansel vickery

Photography by David L. Reamer

We’ll Drink To This

 

At Union Wine Company, we’re passionate people. Passionate over the wine we make. Passionate about the place we live and work. And we care a lot about giving back to the organizations that keep our community thriving.

Last month, we presented a check for $100,000 to our local Planned Parenthood. This donation was the result of Get it Girl, our white wine blend made in collaboration with our friends at Wildfang, whose profits (all 100% of them) were given to Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette.

“This partnership was about more than making great wine. It was about using our platform to stand up for the values we believe in and make an impact for organizations that we care deeply about. It is an honor to be able to write a check of this size to such a fantastic organization. Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette is dedicated to helping people in the local community, something that we at Union Wine Company believe strongly in.”

– Ryan Harms

Union Wine Company Founder, Owner

We are pretty darn proud that our company was able to raise this amount of money for an organization doing so much for our community. It’s far and away the largest donation Union Wine Company has ever made. Even so, we wanted to do more.

After our founder, Ryan Harms, presented the check to Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, our team hunkered down in a conference room – powered by coffee, pastries (and maybe some Bubbles) – to get crafty. After all, winemakers (and those that support the winemaking process) are good with their hands. We spent the morning stuffing bags and making buttons.

Donating $100,000 and making buttons for an organization our company cares so much about? We’d say that’s a pretty great way to spend a morning.

Thank you to all who bought a can or two or three for the cause. We couldn’t have done this without you.

Still interested in getting your hands on Underwood Get it Girl? Limited quantities are still available for purchase on our online shop, with 25% off.

 

 

Photography by David L. Reamer