Rising before the sun is the daily life of our vineyard workers during harvest season. In Napa Valley, harvest runs from mid August to late October. It’s a busy time for all wineries but it’s also the most rewarding time. Winemakers and cellar masters go into action as soon as the grapes line up in 1 ton bins on the crash pad. A year of hard work is realized as they crush the clusters, receiving the “juice” of their labor.
The grapes that become our Sangiovese Riserva are sourced from Game Farm Vineyard along the valley floor in Oakville. This is one of our winemaker’s favorite locations for many reasons. It is a place that holds fond memories for her and her family. Her young daughter, once strapped onto Shawna’s chest during vineyard walks, now helps collect grape samples with her mom.
The Game Farm Vineyard is also cherished for its extraordinary fruit quality. It was selected for its Brunello clone and shallow, rocky soil. In these soils, the stressed vines produce the superior quality Sangiovese we pick.
This harvest, we picked the Sangiovese in mid-September during the cool, fog-covered hours of the morning. The crew works fast, very fast. Acres of vines can be covered in just a couple hours as the men and women use their sharp, crescent-shaped knives to remove only the finest clusters. It’s truly a skill that is memorizing to see firsthand.
Once the berries are collected and filled to the brim, buckets weighing about 40 pounds are carried overhead to the tractor-pulling bin. All at once, the berries are flung into flight, landing perfectly on the bed of purple fruit.
All we can say, is thank you to these hard workers who make each glass of wine possible.
Photo taken by Geoffry Hansen
The Luna Pinot Grigio Vineyards are in a very special location. Their proximity to the San Francisco Bay and the Napa Valley River provide morning fog, creating ideal growing conditions to make a fully botrytized late harvest wine.
These grapes are left on the vine until 30 brix. At this time, naturally occurring botrytis sets in the grape clusters, also known as Noble Rot in classic Sauternes production. But what is Noble Rot? According to Wine Folly…
‘Noble Rot’ (aka Botrytis cinerea) is a type of Ascomycota within the Funghi kingdom. Other ascomycetes include the antibiotic penicillin, Stilton blue cheese and the fungus responsible for athelete’s foot. Botrytis cinerea can occur on fruits, vegetables and flowers –imagine a moldy strawberry. However with wine, it’s considered a good thing. Wines such as Sauternes from Bordeaux; Tokaji Aszu from Hungary, and Spätlese level German Riesling all are made from ‘Noble Rot’ grapes.
The botrytis intensifies the sweetness of the grapes naturally, creating uniquely concentrated dessert wines. For us, it produces luscious honey notes and mouthfeel which perfectly complements the grapefruit and delicate floral aromas of our Pinot Grigio.
Want to taste botyrytized Pinot Grigio in action? Uncork a bottle of our Mille Baci. Only 200 cases of this rare wine are produced yearly, making it a hard find in Napa Valley. See why it’s the perfect pairing for hard cheeses, strawberries, and blue cheese and honey.
Luna’s nightlife has been very active lately. Harvest season is in full swing which means our crew has been working long hours, day and night, to bring in this year’s fruit. All of our grapes are harvested by hand at night or early morning. We do this to take advantage of cool temperatures. Not only are the temperatures more tolerable for the workers, but they benefit the grapes as well. Picking in 50°, as opposed to 90°+, ensures the grapes are firmer, making them easier to work.
This photo gallery showcases our unsung heroes of harvest as they pick Pinot Grigio at 3:00 a.m. from our Estate Vineyard in Napa, California.
“It’s not ready” says Luna Winemaker, Shawna Miller as she expels the seeds of a Cabernet grape. We’re walking through Luna’s special Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard which sits at an elevation of 2,200 feet on a remote part of Howell Mountain. It’s 6:30 in the morning and the sun is just starting to make it’s appearance over the eastern mountains. Fog is lining the Napa Valley beneath us and the morning is peaceful.
During harvest, Shawna makes weekly, sometimes daily trips to all of Luna’s vineyard locations to check on the ripeness of our grapes and put a plan in place for when they are ready for picking. Today, we traveled to our farthest reaching vineyard site at day break to get a head start of the process.
Planted in 1990, Luna’s Cabernet vineyard on Howell Mountain struggles to produce two tons of grapes per acre, but yields Cabernet Sauvignon of extraordinary intensity and structure. This vineyard is dry farmed specifically for low yields to produce incredible tannins. As a bonus, these grapes are certified farmed organic.
Only a couple more weeks of hang time and these exceptional grapes will be on Luna’s crush pad at our Napa Estate – stay tuned!