Each year, interns arrive at Stoller, bright, shiny, and eager for harvest to begin. Their hard work and countless hours spent in our vineyards and cellar help drive and define each vintage. Without them, a successful harvest would not be possible. This past year, nine interns helped shape the 2021 harvest, bringing a unique story and perspective.
We asked first-time Harvest intern Jaden C to share a little about his experience at Stoller Family Estate. A recent graduate of Kansas State University, Jaden received degrees in Food Science & Technology and Spanish. Last spring, he connected with a classmate who worked a harvest at Stoller, and while he hadn’t thought about a job in the wine industry, Jaden had some time post-grad and figured he’d apply. After almost completing his first harvest with the production team at Stoller, Jaden compiled a list of simple lessons that he was reminded of while in the cellar……..
Everything I need for harvest I learned in kindergarten
Listen to the teacher: Being my first harvest, I had much to learn about winemaking and cellar operations, such as the intricacies of operating the press, the mechanics of transferring wine, and where we kept all the cleaning supplies. My peers and supervisors who have worked anywhere from two to 20 harvests worldwide were invaluable in showing me the ropes on the essentials of a successful harvest.
Clean Up: While winemaking has is romantic moments, lots of the work comes down to cleaning and sanitizing. For every operation you make, equipment needs to be cleaned before you use them, after you use them, and anytime a mess is made (which is very frequently). Sometimes, ethanol and a rag or a hot rinse may suffice, but other times a complete chemical treatment is the only way to achieve the clean you need.
Sharing is caring: Winemaking is not a solo effort but a class project. A helpful spirit goes a long way in the cellar, and some jobs simply cannot be done alone. Whether you’re digging out a tank full of drained grapes, pushing a heavy pump, or trying to tighten a clamp on a cumbersome line, some things just take more than two hands to accomplish.
Accidents happen: Always keep an extra change of clothes in your locker. Surrounded by water, must, juice, and wine all day, it’s bound that you will get wet and dirty, maybe even soaked. An extra shirt or pair of socks can be a gamechanger when accidents happen.
Singalong songs: Good music is a great supplement to work in the cellar and helps to renew energy. A good rotation of music, whether it’s 70’s rock or Britney Spears, ensures there is always something for everyone and it often initiates a bit of dancing and smiles along the way.