As a recent graduate from the Viticulture and Enology Department at the University of California, Davis, it was time for me to join the real world and partake in my first winemaking harvest. Luckily, I was able to assist the wonderful winemaking team at Ponte Winery. I didn’t quite know what to expect but let me fill you in…

A typical day begins by venturing out into the Ponte Vineyard to collect random berry samples to measure the sugar and acid levels. We also measure the grapevine water status by using the pressure chamber in order to find how much water to provide the vines with.

During Harvest we take the picked grapes and sort out all the sunburnt and unwanted clusters so that the grapes being crushed are only of best quality. Some post-harvest procedures we commonly perform in the tank yard include inoculating juice with yeast, sulfur and nutrient additions to tanks, and running several tests in the lab, just to name a few. Sulfur helps inhibit oxidation and kill undesirable microorganisms that develop in wine.

Little did I know I would no longer need a gym membership. Between the punchdowns, topping off barrels with wine, cleaning out skins from tanks and carrying heavy buckets of juice, I’m becoming stronger by the minute.

Mixed in with the tough work, Claudio graciously provides the winemaking team with blind wine tastings from Temecula Valley, other California regions and even from Italy, to make sure Ponte wines remain the best! Ponte wines always end up being on the top of my ranking. Good job Mark, our very talented winemaker!

There’s never a dull moment at Ponte Winery. Coming home with wine stains on my clothes is becoming a familiar sight. I’m having the time of my life and I can’t wait to taste this year’s vintage!

Oliva Hallet
Harvest Assistant