In my typical hero worship of Sashi Moorman I too often fail to recognize the woman behind the man. This guest blog post from Sashi’s wife Melissa brings to light what an incredible, inspiring partnership they have. Please enjoy Melissa’s beautifully written look into how she, Sashi, and Juliet survive, and even thrive, through harvest. – Peter Stolpman
Harvest is coming early this year. And as we watch the weather reports and sample the grape sugars in the vineyards, we scramble to get the winery ready and finish all our other business: wine club shipments, bottling, tasting notes and tech sheets, trade tastings and sales calls—as well as dentist appointments, haircuts, and back-to-school shopping. For in our family, where both Sashi and I work in the winery, pretty much all else stops until all the grapes are harvested.
At our house, harvest, like no other time in the year, means living in the present, where the grapes take first priority. All long-term goals and ideas about weekend time off go onto the back burner—if the garage hasn’t been cleaned or the home office organized by August 15, it’s not going to happen until winter. We wake before daybreak and rush around, tending to grapes and daughter until we fall back into bed late at night for a few hours of sleep. Emails and phone calls about anything other than grapes tend to fall by the wayside—so much so that once I had a spare minute to call my brother during lunch and he answered immediately, saying, “What’s happened? What’s wrong?” He was so used to radio silence in September that he assumed only a disaster could have made me dial his number. And my best friend in Australia loves to tell the tale of the October when I picked up the phone and said I was so happy she called right then, since I was taking a little bit of “me” time and could chat a bit. What kind of “me” time, she asked. Oh, I replied, I’m running to the grocery store to buy some toilet paper.
With Sashi at the winery for most of harvest, and me at the winery/bakery/tasting room, we tend to grab most of our time together as a family next to the press. After school, Juliet and I will head over to the ghetto and grab squeegees to help clean the winery floors while Juliet tells her dad about her day. Now that she’s learning the violin, I expect we will be doing much of our practicing at the winery, so Sashi can stay connected to both home life and the grapes. On the weekends, she’ll ride her bike up and down the ghetto parking lot, saying hi to her friends at the tasting rooms and the wineries, while Sashi and I and the rest of the winery team do our work. And this year, I suspect she and I will be on kitchen duty many days, shelling beans, slicing tomatoes, and roasting chicken to make sure we all have sustenance to get through each long day.
It sounds a bit grueling. And often it is. But there is a side to the harvest life that is refreshing: when the day is reduced to the immediate concerns of our family, the winery team, and the fermenting wines, we pay attention. The beauty of sensory delights—the comforting weight of a mug of steaming coffee at dawn, the rose-petal aromas on a tank of fermenting syrah, our daughter’s laughter as she runs and jumps around the barrels, the intoxicating warmth of freshly baked bread—is more sharply in focus. We count the simple blessings of a well-cooked meal in the middle of an arduous day. Sashi’s eyes light up when Juliet leaps out of the car to say hi and to grab a glass of Sauvignon Blanc juice fresh out of the press. And we are grateful when we can all wash the stickiness of grape juice off our hands and sit down to dinner as a group, a civilized break from the hard physical work and mental stress of doing our best by this vintage, these wines.