There’s vibrancy and energy in the air during harvest, an excitement only felt by those among the vines. Workers are in the fields — sometimes before daybreak, on hands and knees or stooped on a bucket — meticulously picking perfectly ripe grapes for hours on end.
Such back-breaking work invites a mini-celebration at the end of each day. Donning sunglasses dripping in sweat, drenched sun hats, and dirty pairs of sturdy boots, workers — led by their tireless winemaker leaders — welcome the end of a long day with whatever liquid they can get their hands on. Anything ice-cold and easy-drinking will do. Sometimes, it’s wine; other times, it’s sessionable beer. And at the end of the weeks-long harvest, it might even be a magnum of Champagne. No matter the liquid of choice, a hard-earned, post-harvest tipple is always a joy for dedicated winemakers.
To find out what vineyard workers are sipping, we asked 9 winemakers what their go-to drinks are after a long day during harvest.
The Best Post-Harvest Drinks Recommended by Winemakers:
- Canadian Oak Chardonnay
- Carpineto Dogajola Rosso
- Pilsner Urquell
- Reyneke Organic Chenin Blanc
- Cold Tecate or Modello
- Sanguinhal Sottal
- Local craft beer
- Sparkling wine
- Hanabi Lager
Keep reading to find out what winemakers indulge in after a long harvest day!
“We drink beer after harvest. Haha! And in the fall, we love a crisp glass of our ‘start-from-scratch,’ wild-yeast ferment Canadian Oak Chardonnay. It just sets the tone for the fall and winter. Each year, harvest signifies the end of one growing season and the beginning of another.” —Christina Brooks, proprietor, Back 10 Cellars, Niagara, Ontario
“Harvest at Carpineto is both an exciting and very stressful time, as there are so many moving parts and quick decisions to make. At the end of a long day, every bone in my body — including the palate — is dead tired, in a good way, so I need comfort foods, like a simple pasta with tomato sauce. To pair, I choose an easy wine that goes with everything Italian, like our Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso. Once harvest is over, then we organize a celebratory dinner with the staff where we grill local Fiorentina T-bone steaks and pour more ‘serious’ wines like Farnito, Brunello, Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile Riserva.” —Caterina Sacchet, winemaker, Carpineto, Tuscany, Italy
“It’s been said before, but it takes a lot of beer to make wine. A few sips of Pilsner Urquell after a long, hot day of harvest hits the spot.” —Cathy Corison, winemaker, Corison Winery, Napa Valley, Calif.
“Harvest time is quite a hot and sticky affair, so the first drink I long for is usually a very big glass or two of water. Thereafter, I’ll probably settle with a glass of Reyneke Organic Chenin Blanc. It’s lovely and fresh for those warm summer days, without the bracing acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc — something my palate welcomes after tasting grapes and juice all day. I also appreciate the organic factor. During that time of the year, we work incredibly hard, and you only want to put the best into your body.” —Johan Reyneke, Owner/ Viticulturist, Reyneke Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa
“After a long day during harvest, I grab the coldest beer I can find — usually a Tecate or a Modelo. To me, nothing is better! I just want something cold to crush and not have to think about. Those are my go-to.” —Jeff Fischer, winemaker, Habit Wine, Santa Ynez Valley, Calif.
“After a long day, it depends on how the harvest is going. But always looking at the bright side of life, the drink we want is a very refreshing, fizzy, and uncomplicated Sottal. A light wine with only 9.5 percent alcohol, this is an isotonic drink that will give everyone strength for the whole harvest.” —Diogo Reis, winemaker, Sanguinhal, Lisbon, Portugal
“An ice-cold, local, craft beer! It takes a lot of good beer to make great wines.” —Barclay Robinson, winemaker, Road 13 Vineyards, Okanagan, British Columbia
“After a long day of harvest, my go-to drink generally relates to bubbles. The reason being is that I’m just trying to unwind after a long day of working and usually trying to cool down and decompress, so something refreshing always comes to mind. It can be in the form of sparkling wine or Campari and sparkling water because it’s so thirst-quenching. If I choose sparkling wine, I tend to gravitate towards an aged Cava.” —Tara Gomez, winemaker, Camins 2 Dreams, Sta. Rita Hills, Calif.
“After a long day of harvest, I’m looking for one of two things: relaxation or resurrection. For relaxation, my go-to is a shift pint of Hanabi Lager made by two of my good friends, Nick [Gislason] and Jenn [Angelosante]. Their summer release is one of my favorites yet. However, to bring me back to life, I want something with acid and/or bubbles, such as Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature or Lelarge-Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence Extra Brut. Both are refreshing and delicious, and Clemence is a badass lady winemaker.” —Meghan Zobeck, winemaker, Burgess Cellars, Napa Valley, Calif.