When I was in France, I picked alongside a seasonal mix of students, housewives and retirees, each assigned to his or her own row, and the others were all very eager to show me how to best pick out the rot and how to pick perfect bunches. We were all in it together. But the California picking crew was a team hired by the vineyard manager... I picked grapes, and when I was done I felt practically nothing in my muscles, and no sense of the effort in my back. My picking experience, instead of being meaningful, had been laughable.
(and from her blog the day prior comes this quote) It was difficult not to reflect on the difference between working on a small vineyard in the Loire and a small one in Dry Creek. No snacks of coffee, cookies and wine would appear. Instead of a man with a conical pack on his back collecting grapes, the vineyard manager followed us in his tractor. The vines, higher off the ground, made the whole task less of a physical workout. The pickers used hooked knives and worked rapidly, while I worked slowly with a small shear, a secateur, as I had at Clos Roche Blanche in the Loire.
I don’t mean to romanticize the picking on a small estate in Europe, but I did quickly see that the work here wasn’t an emotional experience; it was business. The workers picked everything. I preferred to select each bunch to make sure the grapes were perfect. Sure, it was slower, but I liked the idea of preselecting in the vineyard.