Monthly Archive for September, 2009

KCOY TV Early Harvest

KCOY TV visited the winery early Wednesday morning and posted this article on their web site.

NEAR BUELTON – In 1962 Pierre Lafond opened the first winery in Santa Barbara County since prohibition. Today, there are more than 100. Plenty has changed since then. Technology has workers picking faster, more efficiently, and earlier.

Before the sun comes up, the lights go on and the grapes come off. Pierre Lafond winery has light rigs on their picking bins which allow them to pick between three and four in the morning.The fruit comes to the winery at a cold 55 degrees instead of 85 which allows the winemaker to manage the fermentation process a little easier. The pickers are behind the idea as well. They are able to work faster in the cool morning hours instead of the hot afternoon sun. In fact, thanks to the cool of the morning, workers cut off about 11 tons of wine grapes out of 4 acres in about 5 hours. Which means that in one morning, Pierre Lafond Winery produces the equivelent of 600 cases or 7200 bottles of wine.

Lafond plans to finish up picking their pinot noir in about 10 days but wont finish their full harvest until late October. However, that plan depends on the weather.

To access their web site:

KCOY TV at Lafond Vineyards

Lafond Vineyards Night Harvest

Work begins at 4:00am and continues until 10:00am avoiding the mi-day heat. Night temperatures drop to the low 50s while day temperatures can rise to the mid 80s.

The pickers like it and winemaker Bruce McGuire insists on it. Warm grapes can be damaged when handled. The Slideshow photos were taken by David Lafond during this past week. The grapes are Pinot Noir from various blocks in our vineyard.

This Slideshow can also be found on

Lafond Vineyard Log

Harvesting is going well. The fruit is coming in at the right sugar and ph – the cooling weather has helped to stabilise the ph. And so far we can sequence the various blocks as they ripen.

Today we began harvesting, with a second crew, at Arita Hills. This is a small, 13 acre, neighbor vineyard that we farm and harvest. It has produced some exceptional Pinot Noir, some of which we have bottled under our vineyard designate label.

We begin picking at 4:00am, under lights, and continue until about 10:00am (the photos  were taken today at 9:00am). We begin early so that the grapes come to the winery cool – at night the temperature drops to the low 50s. Once processed we cool them even further to about 40F. We want the grapes to soak for a few days before the start of fermentation.

Processing the grapes. We now have a group that is very experienced in this process picking out leaves, little stems attached to the grapes called ‘jacks’, rocks and clumps of dirt and occasionally a pair of shears.

The last picture is of the senior staff for the Vineyard, Winery and Tasting Room at their annual ‘Beginning of Harvest BBQ’. There is never a lack of opportunity for a BBQ and putting a name on it sort of legitimizes it.