Harvest Continues! A Day in the Life of an Intern

Harvest Intern

Thought of the day: I am working with the greatest harvest wine crew ever…seriously, these folks rock!!

Note: excuse tired intern spelling mistakes

A week has past and things are still churning away at Tendril Wine Cellars. We brought in our last fruit today, 4 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oregon side of Walla 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 if this holds true.

sorting line

Tendril sorting line where the Cab freely flows…


Every morning we start the day by taking temperatures of the cap and must, along with samples of the juice. This information is one component which tells us where things are at, giving us a clue into what the must might need to keep it happy and alive until fermentation completes its cycle.


Yeast, like people, have climates they prefer.  People love warm, sunny days. Yeast has a preference as well. When temperatures dip around 40° F, yeast begins to shut down. And when it gets too warm (reaching 100° F) yeast is not happy–and at this point, you never know what to expect, but undesirable results are sure to follow.  So with this in mind, we need to keep the yeast happy by keeping it in its comfort zone. Doing so will create a wonderful wine with complexity and flavors that Tony and Sam aim for–in the picture above, Sam takes temps of the fermenting juice.

wine ferment samples

 After we read the temps, we collect samples of each fermenting vessel


Then we run the numbers to see where the must/juice is at…Here is Dre, running numbers on the samples I pulled…


Right now it seems like eternity before we finally complete fermentation and move the juice to barrels…patience is a virtue!!!

What I learned today: One can spend an eternity learning about winemaking through classroom study and exams, but until you apply the knowledge in real world settings, you know nothing.

Tomorrow:  More fermentation…and pressing. Stay tuned!

…poll for readers–what is your favorite winery workplace boot? I need to purchase a good pair of women’s boots that will take me from sorting to pressing to cleanup!


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. Phil October 15, 2013 at 8:34 PM - Reply

    Hey Pamela, our our work is almost done in Napa and I am glad to see you transition into the harvest production schedule. You are always welcome to join our crew.

    As for boots, have you considered Merrell? it is a good quality waterproof boot for both men and women.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 16, 2013 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      Thanks for the offer Phil, I might take you up on that offer ;) I will definitely check out the Merrells, thanks!

  2. Kristen L. October 15, 2013 at 8:43 PM - Reply

    Muck Boots!! Great for wet work, comfortable and keep you dry.

  3. Darren October 15, 2013 at 8:50 PM - Reply

    I am enjoying your daily intern adventures, keep them coming! As for boots, you can’t beat Rossi, which are made in Australia, but I am not sure if you can get them in the U.S. Do a google search and see if you can get a pair. Or do harvest in Australia and buy a pair while you are there.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal October 16, 2013 at 7:39 AM - Reply

      Hey Darren, do you think I could find Rossi’s in NZ? I am thinking of doing a harvest there next year and maybe I could pick up a pair while there. I like the look of them.

      • Darren October 16, 2013 at 8:13 PM - Reply

        I am not sure but I have ordered items from AUS & NZ and they will ship to America and I was surprised that the shipping cost was not to bad.

  4. Len October 20, 2013 at 10:51 PM - Reply

    Blundstone boots

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