Harvesting the grapes from Youngberg Hill is exciting, exhilarating, exhausting, and down right fun. What makes this time of year so much more enjoyable is the camaraderie of neighbors and friends who come to the vineyard to help out. It reminds me of the old family farm days when neighbors came together to help each other plant and harvest. As soon as we decide when we are going to harvest the grapes, we put out an APB to an ever-growing list of individuals who have asked to help out. We also let our friends on Facebook know when we are harvesting, and invite them to join in. Even our guests staying at the Inn come down to the vineyard before breakfast to get their hands purple.
Many folks who help in the vineyard then follow us to the winery to help with sorting and other activities. Other volunteers come to the winery to help out during bottling, and hopefully get a taste of the new vintage from the barrel.
Friends come from next door, and as far away as Kansas City, Iowa, Atlanta, Seattle, and of course, Portland. Some come for a one-time experience. Others return year after year to enjoy the uniqueness of each season. Some come back two years later to purchase the particular vintage they helped create.
And year after year, as the grapes come in from the fields, are sorted and crushed, we wind down the activities with a harvest celebration dinner. And we all come together once more, to share stories, laugh over mishaps, and anticipate the wine to come. We appreciate the extra hands during harvest and other times of the year, but the final dinner is also a celebration of the love and friendship that goes into creating a great bottle of wine.