A Day in the Life of an Intern, Day One

Wine: Harvest Intern

After a 12-hour day, I am tired yet exhilarated. I decided to take the plunge, eat my own dog food and to get some hands on winemaking experience. Those of you who know me well enough know how strongly I feel about embracing experiences and gaining knowledge in the field that one writes about—it is sort of like an actor studying a part before they go on screen—they live the life of someone they will become before they act in front of a camera. Living a life as in intern will hopefully make me a better writer.

So for the next month, I am working as a harvest intern for Tendril Wine Cellars in the Willamette Valley with two kick butt folks, winemaker/owner Tony Rynders and associate winemaker Samantha Poehlman. Tony happens to be one of my favorite winemakers in Willamette Valley, with a long list of creds which lead to a 10-year venue at Domaine Serene before he started his own gig at Tendril Wine Cellars.

I’ve admired Tendril wines for a while now, so when I had an opportunity to do harvest, I said hell yes. And only one day into it I realize how much I love being part of the winemaking process. It sort of reminds me of the back of the house in restaurants, where no one has anything to prove and they are a tight nit bunch that kicks ass to make a great product. Meet my new harvest homies, Matt, Dre and Courtney. Courtney has a funny nickname, which I can’t remember right now.

my new homies

Today we sorted through some fantastic Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla.


cab franc walla walla2

And here is Mike at the helm of all things de-stemmed….


What I learned today: Whole cluster fermentations are a bastard to punch down!!  And I tasted the best beer in my life after finishing a 12-hour shift.  Here is to the high life and living the dream!

Tomorrow:  Off to Pinot land…stay tuned!


About the Author:

Editor and co-founder of Enobytes.com, Pamela is a sommelier and former restaurant manager and wine buyer with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Court of Master Sommeliers & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.


  1. Jaime October 6, 2013 at 12:26 AM - Reply

    it’s fab to see people being able to engage in the wine making process and increasing the joy of wine making and drinking



  2. Masha October 6, 2013 at 4:22 AM - Reply

    Pamela! What a great post! You made my day! If I can in the next year or two I want to do it too! I will be waiting for your updates on the process and fun!

  3. Greg October 6, 2013 at 8:36 AM - Reply

    This is awesome! I can’t wait for the next update. What was the most fun thing you did today? And the hardest?

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 6, 2013 at 9:12 AM - Reply

      Favorite: punch-downs
      Least favorite: cleanup if you don’t have the appropriate boots :)
      Hardest: that punch-down of the whole cluster fermentation! There is no juice in the ferm so it is like trying to punch down a cement wall.

  4. Darcy MacPherson October 7, 2013 at 6:29 AM - Reply

    You go girl! What fun!

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 7, 2013 at 9:54 PM - Reply

      Thanks Darcy! It has been a long time since I’ve done 10-12+ hour shifts…and I am loving every minute of it! I am having a blast!

  5. […] Thought of the Day: Eating deconstructed nacho Doritos may or may not be your gig!  If you missed harvest Life, Part I, click here! […]

  6. Kurt Burris October 8, 2013 at 9:45 AM - Reply

    Tony is a great guy and a good friend. I’d offer to share some dirt, but he has more on me than I have on him. Have fun.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 8, 2013 at 5:55 PM - Reply

      Are we talking Missoula flood or Willakenzie? :) Thanks Kurt, I am having a blast working with the greatest folks ever!

  7. […] to be transparent, I was fortunate enough to have worked at Tendril as a harvest intern in 2013 with Tony Rynders and associate winemaker Sam Poehlman. This experience was quite an eye […]

  8. […] hard to believe how fast harvest went this year at Tendril Wine Cellars. We’ve gone from sorting grapes to making the yeast happy during fermentation to punchdowns and […]

  9. […] much of the context is best suited for practicing winemakers, harvest interns, students and viticulturalists, I strongly encourage journalists, bloggers and enophiles to […]

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