Photo Essay: Harvest – A Year in the Making

Photographer Kent Porter captures the changing landscape leading up to fall, this most exalted of seasons.

Fall in all its majesty, with its brilliant colors, its sublime flavors, its harvest rituals and rewards, gets all the glory. But this most exalted of seasons — especially here in Wine Country, where the grape is our signature crop — does not, in fact, deserve all the credit.

Consider winter, when the first frost and the end of leaf fall herald dormancy in the vineyard. Out come the shears and saws, used to train the vines and spur new growth. Then spring brings budbreak, shoot growth, and flowering, all of which mark the beginning of the annual lifecycle of the vine.

Veraison, the stage when the grapes start to ripen, arrives in summer, as the fruit begins to take the hue — red-black or yellow-green — of the wine it will become. In Sonoma, this is when the frenzy begins, with early-harvest grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay often demanding to be picked in August.

The common thread through every season? Mother Nature is the boss, and she alone dictates the timing, at every stage, in this continuous round of hello and goodbye.