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Patch Helps Harvest at Hatfield Creek

Local editor Melissa Phy lent a hand this weekend at harvesting wine grapes.

I didn't start getting into wine until I began nannying in my college years for a family that was well-versed in wine knowledge. They are the ones to blame for my love of the fermented grape juice and Ramona is responsible for keeping that love alive.

In my short time here as editor of Ramona Patch, I've tasted wine from about six or seven local wineries. And this past weekend, I was lucky enough to go out into the fields and harvest some grapes and really experience a part of being a vintner.

Elaine Lyttleton, who owns Hatfield Creek Winery, invited me over to help harvest almost 2,000 pounds of grapes (zinfandel, to be exact) on Sept. 9. The previous day, about 30 volunteers helped harvest 5,500 pounds. Most grapes were sold to local winemakers, but some was kept for Hatfield Creek's cellar, which cannot yet sell their wine.

I was one of about seven who lined the vines with emtpy buckets and sharp clippers and removed every last grape on the vine. There was the occasional red ant hill, earwig colony and many-a-bee, but overall the experience was fun and somewhat calming.

In Napa, grapes are picked by hand usually at night (or the wee hours of the morning). We started at 6:30 a.m. and the overhead blocked out the sun and the monsoonal breeze kept things cool.

Maybe I just got lucky being a harvest-newbie.

Check out the small photo gallery of the relaxing Sunday event and tell me in the comments if you helped out a vineyard this weekend! Was it your first time or is this an annual tradition for you?

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