Winemaker For A Day


Although most of us realize that nothing is ever as easy or fun as it looks, the job of a winemaker still seems pretty sweet.  Sure, there are the long hours during harvest, but you get to work surrounded by all of the beauty that is Naggiar and drinking wine is actually a necessary and crucial part of your job!  So, in honor of the impending Halloween holiday, I thought I would go a little “Freaky Friday” on you and place you in the very large boots of Derek Irwin for a day in the life of a winemaker.

Rise and shine is at 5:30 a.m. and you try to do everything as quietly as possible so as to not wake up your sleeping family.  Make coffee for the hour drive to Sacramento and leave enough for your wonderful wife so she starts the day off in a good mood.   You load up a 280 pound puncheon and a 100 pound barrel that you have been storing at your house for the last couple of days and begin the drive from your house in Napa to Sacramento, which is, thankfully, a reverse commute.  After a stop at a case goods storage facility to pick up a half  pallet of wine, you attend a meeting in Sacramento with Mike Naggiar and a client and then it’s off to the races again.

From Sacramento, it is back on the road to another winery to drop off the case goods you picked up earlier.  While there, you check to see how this client’s fermentation is progressing and discuss the final picking schedule and barrel choices for their recently pressed wine.  Before leaving, you give a short lecture to our Naggiar interns, who are there helping out with this client’s harvest, on potassium instability in wine…hmm, sounds like a future blog topic…

Finally, it’s on to Naggiar to unload the barrels that have been in the back of the truck since leaving Napa.  While at Naggiar, you check the fermentations, meet with the cellar master to discuss the upcoming work schedule, check on the end of season fertigation efforts, press off a block of Cabernet Sauvignon, and meet with the ranch manager to discuss and plan the end of season activities.

It’s now 3:00 and time to make the 90 min drive home to Napa- you’re still on the clock as you spend the entire drive home on the phone (with a bluetooth, of course) speaking with Mike, Mary, and additional clients.  By the time you arrive home, you will have added 230 miles to your odometer for the day.  Now, you switch to dad mode and spend the evening taking two of your kids to swim team practice.  Dinner is at 8:00, followed by a little paperwork, and now, dear reader, you can race out of Derek’s shoes and back to your own body as the day is finally done.

Whew, I’m exhausted just writing that- I think I need to go lie down for a bit…


About dwdirwin

Wife of Naggiar Vineyards winemaker Derek Irwin, mother to 4 active kids and one dog and newbie blogger!
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