By Whitney Vau
And just like that, grape harvest 2019 has kicked off!
Hi, my name is Whitney (Vau) Seckora and I live on my family’s ranch in Northern California where we farm wine grapes. I live a very active lifestyle whether I’m at the gym, out showing properties as a Realtor, working on the ranch and hunting, fishing and hiking on the weekends. My health is very important to me so I use Wilderness Athlete in my daily routine. I always seem to be going a hundred miles an hour and WA keeps me performing at my best. I have been using WA for four years and I’m very happy with the results.
I wanted to share how I use WA products for work, specifically related to working grape harvest. Working long hours as a farmer can be challenging and incorporating WA products has helped me stay alert and focused on the job.
For the next two months, I’ll be working long hours and feeling a little sleep deprived, but I love every minute of it. We own and farm over 400 acres of grapes in Mendocino County, which is about 2 hours north of San Francisco. I’m lucky to live and work on my family’s ranch where I have beautiful views of the mountains and vineyards. It really is country living at its finest and harvest is easily my favorite time of the year. 2019 marks my sixth year working grape harvest alongside my dad. After I moved home from college, my dad asked for help with harvest. He told me to get on the loader and figure out how to operate it and the rest is history!
I have a lot of different roles during harvest. I do everything from testing brix (fruit sugars) with a refractometer and hand-picking with the picking crews to setting up lighting, driving tractors, hauling gondolas, and operating the loader. I get so many questions from people that follow me on social media about why we work at night. We harvest grapes at night when the weather is cool; cooler fruit means the wineries have better control over the fermentation process. Harvesting at night also means lower energy costs and greater efficiency. For those of us working harvest in California, the days in August and September can still be around 90 degrees, so working at night in cooler conditions is ideal.
Grape harvest begins at the end of August when we pick Chardonnay at lower sugars for sparkling wine. Things wrap up around Halloween and occasionally, we harvest into November. As farmers know, the weather plays the biggest role in our yields; weather can determine how the fruit tastes or what the sugars will be. Mother Nature can be wonderful, but she can also be cruel. A lot of rain during grape harvest can cause mold and ruined fruit. Wildfires in our state have caused smoke taint in the grapes and have made farmers unable to sell their crop. Ideal conditions are warmer days and cool nights. Fingers crossed this year for good weather and a good harvest!
Because I work really long hours and have to stay alert while operating equipment, it is really important for me to stay hydrated. I bring a Hydroflask to work and start off the evening by making a Superman, a combo of Hydrate and Recover and Energy and Focus. I really like that I can throw the to-go packets in my Carhartt jacket and have them with me throughout the evening. If I didn’t pre-make my Superman at the house, sometimes I’m mixing it up while on the tractor. The Hydrate and Recover has electrolytes and minerals that support proper hydration, energy metabolism, and physical endurance, which is the perfect combination for powering through hard work. The Energy and Focus gives me a steady energy boost and is my substitute for coffee. It also supports optimum brain and nervous system energy and has Vitamin C and E. Superman drinks are key to getting me through long shifts and have worked wonders for me the last several years of grape harvest. To keep my immune system strong during harvest I also take The Good Stuff vitamins, probiotics, and fish oil. It keeps my body and immune system strong, especially heading into flu season. During harvest, there is literally no time for sick days.
I hope that you will follow along during our 2019 grape harvest. Ag plays such a crucial role in our lives and I love being an Ag-vocate and sharing about farming on social media through photos, videos, and blog posts like this one. Go support your local farmers and ranchers; they work tirelessly to put food on your plates and wine in your glasses!