Harvest every year is a months-long adrenaline rush for winemakers, a Vita-Mix blend of blood, sweat, sleepless nights, carb-heavy meals, buckets of beer and a lot of what-could-go-wrongs.
In 2012, the yields were of incredibly high quality and also voluminous, amplifying the high-wire act of turning grapes into wine. Three Napa Valley winemakers share their endurance feats in “Vintage: Napa Valley 2012,” a six-part documentary airing this season nationally on PBS television stations.
“For people who don’t have the opportunity to come to Wine Country, it brings harvest to life,” said Marisa Taylor, winemaker for Rutherford Hill Winery in Rutherford, of the series. “They get to see what goes on in the winery, that it’s not all glamorous. It’s a lot of physical work.”
The three protagonists — Taylor, Kimberlee Nicholls of Markham Vineyards in St. Helena and Elizabeth Vianna of Chimney Rock winery in Napa — were recruited separately, but just happen to be longtime friends.
The episodes shift among each of their stories, showing Vianna at her first pick of the season, while Nicholls is still sampling grapes at several of her source vineyards to determine when to harvest. In the second episode, the action picks up when 150 tons of grapes arrive at Markham, 30 more than expected.
“It became less about us and more about the crew getting recognition they never get,” Vianna said. “Now that I look at it, it’s a treasure to have. It captures harvest.”
Check local listings or vintagetvseries.com for air dates.