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Picking Sundays

It isn't easy showing up to a vineyard by 8 a.m. — on a Sunday. But it was harvest time at Holy-Field Winery, where "Picking Sundays" happen only a few weeks a year. One clear, cool September morning, about 100 people had reserved spots as volunteer laborers. Clippers and plastic gloves were issued (the grapes get sticky), and there was a lecture outlining which grapes to pick, which grapes not to pick and, of course, how to do it all safely. (Don't leave clippers in the pails or on the ground unless you want to bust the equipment and make the growers cranky.) First up: the Melody grape (white wine). Then the St. Vincent (for the red). Fanning out, buckets in hand, through the well-kept rows of fences and vines, pickers met fellow pickers. Children assisted parents, and groups of friends chatted and worked. While some boasted about how many pails they'd filled, others were more methodical, finding satisfaction in carefully grasping and snipping. Each of the day's buckets would produce five to seven bottles of wine. The growers took pictures and served a generous buffet lunch with a strong sangria. Finally a show: that day's grapes already getting crushed.
Sundays, 8 a.m. Starts: June 5. Continues through Aug. 27, 2011

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