Harvesting wine grapes in Iowa can be a challenge: electrical storms, high temperatures, sticky humidity and competing for attention from potential grape pickers — and for many people who are fans of Iowa Hawkeye or Cyclone football, football tends to win out. The good news is the grapes somehow get picked (i.e., wine vs. football — wine wins!) and the juice becomes wine.
This past Saturday we joined almost 100 volunteer grape pickers at Fireside Winery‘s annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event. Volunteers meet at the vineyard at 7am, receive a briefing and tools, and are directed into the vineyard where a orchestrated event unfolds. Five gallon buckets are filled with grapes, staff collects full buckets and leaves fresh buckets behind, several buckets filled to the brim are hauled via Gators back to a large macro bin, and later a tractor retrieves about a ton of berries in the bin and takes them to an awaiting trailer. The trailer, when filled with the morning harvest heads back to the winery and those bins are placed in chilled refrigerator semi trailer to stay cool. When needed the cool bins are removed and delivered next door to the crush-pad where the winemaker crushes, destems and presses the juice.
Around noon the volunteer pickers are back to the winery (about 6 miles from the main vineyard) and relax, have lunch and then enjoy a grape stomp.
Throughout the day we filmed the process, met and talked with volunteers, chatted and interviewed both staff and volunteers, captured the crush (even a brief breakdown of equipment), and the grape stomp.
Here are a few of the photos (below). Click to see the entire album visit our Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked Facebook page (and remember to “like” us). Thanks!