A Day in the Life of an Intern, Day Two

Harvest Intern

Thought of the Day: Eating deconstructed nacho Doritos may or may not be your gig! 

…and If you missed harvest Life, Part I, click here!

It is only two days into my wine harvest intern venture and my respect for winemaking and the process increases twofold in a 24-hour period. I have so much admiration for the crew—everyone is exhausted from the long hours yet they manage to keep an upbeat and enthusiastic outlook.

And if it is one thing I learned in the last 24-hours, it is that there is so much to learn! Today I assisted with additions, which is an important step during fermentation. We take temperatures and brix (sugar) levels for each tank, then we make adjustments based on where the fermentation is in the process. If the yeast is not happy, adjustments are made so the yeast thrives (think nitrogen, which is food for grapes!). Then we complete twice-daily punch downs, an important maceration process which mixes solid parts of the must (seeds, skins and pulp) with the juice below the cap through punching down, punching over or using a rack & return method (uncommon).

Punching down is when the top cap is pushed back into the juice–this is the process we are using… Pumping over is when the juice is taken from the bottom of the tank and transferred to the top to submerge the cap.

dre rocking the cap management

Here is Dre rocking her punchdowns skills! You go girl…

After we completed morning additions and punch downs, we sorted through Pinot noir from two sources: Carabella Vineyard and Ridgecrest. Carabella Vineyard is on the southeast slope of Parrett Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains AVA with gravelly volcanic soils—Nekia, Saum and Jory, which are perfect for dry farming the low yielding vines.

Sam at Tendril

Sam, the most awesome associate winemaker at Tendril brings in the Carabella fruit to the sorting line.

Carabella Vineyard Pinot noir

sorting line

Matt and Courtney rocking the sorting line!
Beautiful Pinot noir…
pinot fermenting
Mikey talking back to the pinot2
I think the fermenting Pinot said something and Mike is giving it the “what for” attitude…
The fruit we received from Ridgecrest is from a property located on Ribbon Ridge in Newburg, Oregon, owned by Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem Wines. The vineyard has Willakenzie soil, which often produces a Pinot noir style reminiscent of the Cotes de Nuits in Burgundy.
Chehalem fruit

beautiful pinot

More beautiful Pinot noir…


Tony, owner/winemaker of Tendril takes the helm of the sorting line of all things Pinot!

yellow jackets
During sorting, we witnessed bins filled with yellow jackets—and I was stung three times!

Damn those yellow jackets!!! Photo credit: Wikipedia


At least ladybugs don’t sting

Next – chemistry and pressing!

*please excuse tired intern typos

*Level of effort (inside joke for Sam – I rocked it with 6 hours of sleep, but now it is time for the day job but wishing I was doing more whole cluster punch downs while eating deconstructed nacho Doritos (licked cleaned of cheese and flavor)!


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. Kathryn October 8, 2013 at 10:02 AM - Reply

    I think it is great when wine buyers, writers, etc, experience a harvest and get to see the hard work and passion that so often goes into a bottle of wine. Manual punchdowns…are you sore yet? ;-) Enjoy!

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 8, 2013 at 6:05 PM - Reply

      Oh man, my muscle soreness did not catch up till two days later…then I could hardly walk!! I am finally back to normal (for now!)

  2. Greg October 8, 2013 at 8:26 PM - Reply

    So I take it the bee stings and punch downs were the hardest, and the deconstructed nacho Doritos rocked the day? Living vicariously thorough you… HA!

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM - Reply

      Bee stings suck, punch downs rock–well, let me rephrase. Early punch downs get your blood going in the AM but suck later in the day because you are so tired. You run out of energy 10 hours into it… And the beer at the end of the shift is always the best part of the day!!

  3. jason October 9, 2013 at 2:45 PM - Reply

    It’s amazing. I’ve worked in the business for 13 years, at very large wineries, and small ones. Never been stung, or bitten once by the thousands of bees, wasps, hornets, spiders. I’ve had some close calls hand picking fruit at night by black widows but I guess I’m just lucky.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 9, 2013 at 5:37 PM - Reply

      You are indeed lucky Jason! Another person on the sorting line was stung on the head!!

  4. […] Walla. The fruit was clean which made our jobs pretty easy on the sorting line. And guess what? No bee stings!  And with the end of fruit comes shorter days. WooT! Well, maybe…. ask me in a couple of weeks […]

  5. […] 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 […]

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