My New Job: Diary of a Winery Assistant

Tomorrow is the big day. I'll head into the Oregon hills and begin to learn how to make wine. Dobbes Family Estate Winery, which also makes Wines By Joe, has hired me on as winery assistant for the 2010 harvest. Another guy approaches the vine.

Another harvest season for the history books... And the ancient ritual ensues. In Italy, grandmothers, daughters, sons, wives and their husbands, twenty-somethings home from the north---anyone willing and able partakes in the harvest. Family-run wineries become reunions during the harvest period. Will it be the same at the Dobbes Family Estate, the 4th largest wine-producer in Oregon?

I do know that I'll be working alongside Winemaker Joe Dobbes (a privilege that I don't take lightly). The work will be hard and the hours long. A reasonable prediction is 12 hours a day, six days a week. It's too early to begin complaining, but the schedule is daunting. I take strength from the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of people have done this before. If a nonna can harvest grapes in the Italian south in 90-degree weather, I can put up with Oregon's cool climate.

When I have time, I will try to document the experience in a series called Diary of A Winery Assistant. Tomorrow is orientation....


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