Sunday, September 8, 2013

Is this my life?

This blog is my attempt to document my escape from Florida move to Washington to work the wine harvest. It may not be exciting, but hopefully those of you reading enjoy what anecdotes I'm able to provide.

This move was set in motion about a year and a half ago when I took a course in college entitled Wines of the World. We learned a little bit about winemaking basics (viticulture and enology), major growing regions, and the most widely known grape varietals. We also had a tasting every week in class, which didn't hurt. Something about the subject grabbed me, and I quickly became a little obsessed with learning about wine, specifically winemaking. I joked about running away to frolic with grapes, but at the time it felt more like a cute idea rather than an actuality. I wasn't talented/intelligent/motivated/knowledgeable/magical enough to do something like that. The dream was shelved for the time being and filed away under "Fanciful and Preposterous."

After a tumultuous year, I found myself staring down June 2013. I was miserable at my job, bored, and feeling stagnant in my life. I had made my peace with Florida after hating it for years and was ready for an adventure. I looked into moving back to the Washington, DC area or going to the Bay Area; there was opportunity and potential surrounding both cities, but it didn't feel right.

Waiting around can be pretty boring. While waiting for my imagined green light from the Universe I began researching the wine industry and spoke with a couple people who are familiar with it. My first applications were sent more to prove to myself that I was capable and willing, that my spirit wasn't dead yet and my fear of failure and rejection was just that, a fear. It was overwhelming at first, but I quickly fell into a routine of applying for jobs every couple days.

In mid-July I got a call from a woman in California asking me where I lived as they were looking to interview local applicants only. I didn't make the cut as far as that's concerned (still confused about why, Florida is practically next door), but I did get confirmation that people were seeing my resume and taking it seriously. I guess I was just desperate enough in the cover letter to warrant attention. My dream was becoming slightly more real, and I had a fighting chance.

Several interviews, cubicle dances, and resumes later, I received an offer from a crush facility in Washington state to work the harvest as a cellar intern. I finalized my plans on August 7 and left for Washington on August 21. I didn't intend on leaving Florida in such a madcap fashion, but the grapes don't wait for anyone. I packed up my car and drove across the country with my mom.


Harvest - When the grapes are harvested, usually occurring in the fall.

Viticulture - Science and study of grapes; this covers all aspects of grapes while they're in the vineyard

Enology - Science and study of wine and wine making minus the vineyard aspects (growing and harvesting)

Crush facility - A facility where the use of equipment and labor can be rented out by different wineries when they make their wine. The facility I'm working at provides everything  except the grapes, winemakers and/or consultants, and barrels.

Cellar - Where the wine is made. This is different than the vineyard (where the grapes are grown) and the lab (where the science-oriented tasks occur, much more enology-focused). The cellar does not need to be underground or in a cave, but it does need to be kept at cooler temperatures.

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