Kevin Merrill

Kevin Merrill

The warm days of Indian summer have been mixed in with beautiful fall, daytime temperatures along the Central Coast.

Our hand crews who are picking at night were glad to get out of the heat and work in the cool evening. A few nights it got downright cold with temperatures near 37 degrees as the last of the grapes came off the vines, filling the trucks for that evening.

It has been a start-and-stop harvest this season as wineries juggle tank space for the new vintage. It makes it hard to schedule crews and mechanical harvesters to fit the wineries needs, but we make it work.

One nice thing is up until now I have been able to take a night or two off. Quite awhile back I saw that Clint Black was coming to the Theaterfest in Solvang, for a one-night show in October. Usually I never think about going anywhere in October as we are busy picking. This year I decided I would make it work and bought two tickets to see the show. Luckily it fell on a slow night when we were only picking two truckloads and my guys could cover it easily.

Clint Black was celebrating 30 years of performing his country/western music, of which I have always been a fan. It sure doesn’t seem like he first started singing 30 years ago.

I remember listening to his music while I was farming in the San Joaquin Valley in the fields near Corcoran. The show was a fund-raiser for the Theaterfest, which has been a venue for PCPA Theater and other community events for the past 45 years.

It was a beautiful evening as we watched Clint perform both old favorites and new songs coming out next month. The 700-seat theater was sold out and people rose to their feet and swayed to the music as Clint finished the evening with some of his most well-known songs.

Karen and I got back to the vineyard in Los Alamos around 10:30 and watched the last 5-ton gondola of Chardonnay grapes go across the scale before dumping the fruit into a waiting truck. The driver received his paperwork and the truck left for King City, where the fruit will be processed into wine.

We headed home to find our daughter Kathleen just finishing unloading her horses from the trailer after riding with two of her friends from the new rodeo team at Allan Hancock College earlier in the evening. She decided to stay a little longer and get some extra roping practice in after her two friends left for the night.

I dropped mom off at the house and went up to the shop area to help Kathleen unhook the trailer from her truck. She didn’t really need my help, although the ball hitch can be little temperamental sometimes.

I’m guessing harvest will be done in two to three weeks. I expect a busy week coming up with most of our Chardonnay coming off over the next 10 days, leaving our Syrah for last. Hopefully our beautiful fall weather will continue as we finish up. Enjoy the season.

Kevin Merrill of Mesa Vineyard Management is a board member of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau and a director on the Santa Barbara County Fair Board. He can be reached at kmerrill@mesavineyard.com

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