Thursday, October 13, 2016

Not Safe? Then No Movement.

One harvest, I was out there helping out.  But I had to be elevated up on a forklift, over 15 feet in the air.  No one wanted to move me.  In their desire to keep me safe and not risk having me fall, they kept me suspended up there, with bees and yellow jackets swarming around me.  For those that don’t know, when wine starts fermenting, or even right when the grapes arrive, those dang jackets and bees will absolutely wrap themselves around you.  Anyway, I was still up there, and no one had the guts to move me.  They were concerned I might fall.  No one moved me.  This battle went on for over two weeks, ‘Who’s going to be the one to move Debra when she’s doing punchdowns?’  It was a constant battle.  I appreciated it, but at the same time I was thinking, “Someone move me already!”

Now, either our Assistant Winemaker Nick, Cellar Master Cass, or our estate jack-of-all-trades Andres move me now when I’m up there punching down.  I value my life more than a ton of grapes, and these are the guys that do it without any hesitation.  And, I don’t hesitate allowing them to move me while I’m up on that thing.  Safety has to come first, that’s always been a staple and a consistency at Dutcher Crossing.  If it takes an hour longer to do something, and it’s safer, then that’s what you do.  Just like back home with my family’s construction business.  In the wine world, what I’m learning, is that time management is vastly different.  With these punchdowns that we do and that I was doing while up on that lift, you’re in your own little world.  I’m up there with my earphones in, listening to music.  Why can I do that, have my own moment up there punching down a cap of grapes?  Because I feel safe.  I know a safe reality is in place, for me and the everyone on the crush pad and around the winery.

During harvest, safety has to be the priority.  Not something you check on here and there, but a constantly maintained state here at the winery.  I don’t get up on that lift anymore, as the boys want to get things done quick, but I have been out there raking fruit out of the bins.  I still want to help, be out there with the boys and contribute where I can.  I’ll be helping out this harvest with punchdowns in the morning, with Nick’s crew.  Yes, I’m sure the bees and jackets’ll be buzzing around me, but it’s all part of the job.

Making wine is a long process, and in the process there needs to be an assurance that you’re safe.  It’s that simple.  Like I said, if it takes an hour longer and everyone’s going to be alright, then I’m fine with it.  Safety can never be overestimated.  Each department here at the winery depends on the other, and we constant are checking our procedures, making sure they’re safe.  Looking back now, I can see this is completely the reason for the boys not wanting to move me.  They just wanted me to be safe, which I appreciate.  Harvest to harvest, this is what I and anyone visiting Dutcher Crossing will see.

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