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September 18, 2012 | 1:20 PM

The Mercury News published the five least glamourous aspects of winemaking which included

The 4 a.m. wake-up call: To ensure optimal ripeness, grapes must be picked when they are cold. In hot regions, such as Napa and Paso Robles, that often is at ungodly hours when the rest of the world is asleep. Some large wineries pick by lamplight before dawn.

The clothes: Perhaps the least glamorous thing about winemaking is what you have to wear to pick grapes. Old thick denim, a long-sleeved shirt, work boots, a wide-brimmed hat -- should we go on? This uniform protects you from sharp vines and can withstand all the abuse of a harvest day.

The sticky factor: Working with wine grapes in any capacity -- even for a few minutes -- leaves a sticky film on your hands that quickly turns syrupy, making it impossible to grip the clippers, rakes and stainless steel mashers necessary to harvest the fruit. You find yourself washing your hands more than you did when you brought home that newborn baby.

The bees: Insects have really good palates. They love the nectar as much as we do, maybe more. They will hover all over your business, from every bucket of grapes you haul down the vineyard to the first punch-down, buzzing in your ears, in front of your eyes and on your sticky hands.

The liability: Yeah, winemaking is so glamorous that some wineries make you sign a form in case you die during the process. The biggest risk is becoming overwhelmed by carbon dioxide fumes in a poorly ventilated space, such as a vat, stainless steel tank or small cellar. Grapes give off carbon dioxide during the fermentation process.

Got something to add to the list or can name the close runners up? Email numbers six, seven, and eight and any harvest 2012 updates, field reports, or images to

Sabrina comments

Having to climb into the fermentation tanks to clean them out before new wines can be added???We start harvesting out Chardonnay tonight!

- Sabrina Compagno

Jon comments

shoveling skins out of a fermenter is by far the worst job there possibly could be in the business.........and those tanks get harder to get into as my age and waist size increases

- Jon Campbell, Stokes Bros Farms

Daniel comments

Perhaps climbing on a mountain of rotting pomace, breathing in the rich atmosphere of vinegar, fruit flies and bees, in order to free a macrobin (still half full) that was accidentally dropped into the compost dumpster after working for 14 hours outdoors and all you can think of is going home to do it all again the next day would qualify as a one of the 'least glamorous' aspects of winemaking.

- Daniel Person, Fleury Winery


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