What’ll they think of next — grape grower division

A friend once told me, “Sometimes, doing anything is better than doing nothing.”

I’m guessing that’s what Bruce Cakebread thought when he called in the cavalry (so to speak) to rescue his grape crop.

Bruce is the president of Cakebread Cellars, one of Napa Valley’s Blue Chip wineries. His vineyards, along with every other vineyard in Northern California, were deluged with rain during the 2011 harvest.

Take my word for it: rain during harvest is a VERY BAD THING. Moisture sitting on the grapes and caught in the bunches can allow rot to develop, and that can potentially RUIN THE ENTIRE YEAR’S CROP.

Typically, grape growers just cross their fingers and hope for a succession of warm sunny days to dry the fruit, but our friend Bruce couldn’t stand to do nothing: like I said, “sometimes, doing anything is better than doing nothing.”

So Bruce got very creative. He borrowed a trick from old-time cherry growers and hired a helicopter to come charging over the hill and save the day. The chopper flew back and forth across the Cakebread vineyards, just 20 feet above the valley floor, and stirred up enough wind to (hopefully) blow the moisture off the grapes. Wow — that’s creative thinking.

I picked this story up from Dr. Vino’s very fun wine blob, and he picked it up from NPR (National Public Radio), my sole source of information about the world. Check out the full story on NPR to get all the details.

It’s a great tale of creativity and ingenuity, but it also helps us to remember that at its heart, winemaking is agriculture, and winemakers are essentially farmers. They live by the land and are at the mercy of ┬áMother Nature, working tirelessly to stay ahead of whatever she might throw at them.

Those of us who drink wine need to send an occasional shout-out to those who make wine, and thank them for  devoting their lives to our pleasure.

So Thank You Bruce, and all the others like you. I’ll drink to that…

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