Every year we throw a harvest party, in honor of the completed season. It’s essentially an internal happening, and it’s quite an affair, to say the least.
A great deal of the event focus goes on the vineyard teams and their families; face painting, margaritas, and an acre of homemade guacamole are just some of the highlights. But all in all, it’s a celebration for everyone who works for Ridge, and as such, there is always a panoply of extraordinary wine to enjoy as well.
We generally commence the evening with a selection of wines we’ve been gifted by friends and colleagues in the industry over the preceding year; local was definitely on display for this year’s edition, as event guests enjoyed wines from — among others — Big Basin, Varner, Thomas Fogarty, and Cooper-Garrod.
There was no scarcity of Ridge wine either, and in addition to sampling the full crop of current releases, we went digging deep into the vaults as well. This year proved to be an exemplary enactment of oeno-spelunking, as we unearthed — among other delicious niceties — two absolutely preposterous rarities: 6L bottles of 1980 and 1985 Monte Bello!
Weather has been an almost laughably comi-tragic presence at Harvest Party’s past; fierce, horizontally blazing winds, pounding rains, near-freezing temperatures have, more often than not, been the event norm. But this year the heavens were most decidedly smiling; the air was crisp, temperatures were mild, and the moon shone bright as a celestial nightlight.
Under that moon, as the night wore down, and the spackle of stars shone brighter as the party’s low hum began to subside, I took a moment to reflect on it all; not on the party, not on the wine, not even on the fine company present, but rather, on the harvest itself; what it meant, and all that came and went with it.
Harvest is an extraordinary time, full of pressure and demand; expectation and exhaustion, and so many moving parts contribute in so many different ways. I myself am of course only peripheral at best, being just a chronicler and not a full participant per se, but even as merely an embedded journalist of sorts, the emotional vagabondage is a moving one, and as such, my ruminations were weighty ones.
I remembered my leaving the Monte Bello Winery on the final day of crush.
This was it, the very last fruit had come in, the very last grape had been picked. It was over. I got into my car, and turned on the radio. An almost implausibly melancholic and stately classical work broke forth from my speakers, and its wise and striking harmonies carried me out the gate, and back down through the vineyards …