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Montelena’s Happy Vineyard Crew

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We have a new face on the blog! Lynn Pedone will be working in the vineyard, with Dave Vella and his crew, as she pursues her studies in Viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. A little background on Lynn: she’s a recent East Coast transplant, has lived all over the world growing up in a military family and has previously worked in the world of business and finance. She’s now hoping to settle into her “last career stop until retirement” in the wine industry and is looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about vineyard maintenance with Dave.  Lynn will be writing a weekly blog post about her experiences working in the Chateau Montelena vineyards.  Read her latest post below:

My co-workers – the people who make up the great, hard-working vineyard crew at Chateau Montelena – really help to make my time in the vineyard enjoyable. They are also good, patient teachers, and a lot of the fun for me has been practicing my Spanish. We carry on conversations as we work, and somehow I know about their lives and they know something about mine. Last week I was partnered with Jose for the morning and he showed me a very efficient way to do leafing in the fruit zone.  Clusters are getting big now, and it’s important to allow appropriate sun exposure and adequate ventilation around the berries.  Jose demonstrated how to lift the canopy with one hand, kind of like looking under the hood of a car, and using the other hand to “comb” through and pull off leaves, working fast but taking care not to accidentally pull off a cluster of grapes.  With experience it is possible to work quickly and avoid the fruit, but the key of course is to end up allowing enough sun exposure on the clusters but not so much you risk sunburn.  I told Jose he was “muy rapido” but that I was “lento(a)” – slow.  Somehow he made me feel that I was still doing a good job.  Today, I was part of a small team tasked with dropping fruit from some young vines.  Even knowing why this has to be done (keeping vine yields low to produce grapes with more flavor and intensity) still doesn’t make it any easier to snip off a perfectly beautiful cluster and throw it in a pile where it will shrivel and die in a matter of hours!  Depending on the size of the shoot, I was told to leave two, one, or no cluster.  The heat was back with us today, and the work was hard.  But I continue to be impressed and amazed that my coworkers are always smiling, singing, and happy.  Amidst their laughter and chatter, I can sometimes pick out a word or two or a phrase I understand.  Most of all, listening to them passes the time and makes me smile, and I am grateful for this experience.

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About Our Authors

George Blanckensee

An expert event planner and an avid basketball and sports fan, George can tell you about all the best off-the-beaten path eateries.

Kali Clark

A Napa Valley native, Kali returned to the area after a stint on the East Coast and can be found documenting the latest happenings at the Chateau. When not behind the camera, she likes to experiment in the kitchen, travel, and enjoy the outdoors

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