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Lodi Wineries Harvesting Overnight To Beat Triple-Digit Heat

LODI (CBS13) — It's been a hot summer in the Sacramento region, with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, so some vineyards in Lodi are beating the triple-digit heat by harvesting in the moonlight.

Vineyard rows become illuminated with floodlights after the sun goes down while workers carefully harvest this year's bounty.

"Honestly, our employees really love it. We're starting at four in the morning, it's cool, we have lighted equipment which is nearly as bright as what you see right now," Harney Lane Winery owner Kyle Lerner said.

Wineries including Harney Lane, Bear Creek and Ironside say there are benefits to harvesting overnight for both the fruit and the crews.

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"The winery wants to receive the fruit at a lower temperature, especially with the white grapes," Gary Valente, Kautz Farms Supervisor, said. "If the temperature is too hot, they'll actually start spoiling."

The cooler temperatures create better working conditions, keep the bees and rattlesnakes away, and the grapes are more firm, making them easier to work with, especially when it comes to de-stemming.

Lerner said night-harvesting also helps his winery manage the work-flow.

"You can imagine thousands of tons of fruit coming in from machine harvesters as well as hand-picking and all trying to get to the winery at the same time, if we were all doing that during the day, things would bottleneck," Lerner said.

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The use of heavy equipment when its far cooler saves the wineries energy and the customers some cash.

"One machine can do the same work as 40 individuals in the same amount of time, and so one good thing for the consumer is we can keep the prices lower," Valente said.

Night harvesting is well underway now. The process is expected to last through October.

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