Vigorously collecting grapes, the twelve workers on Frank-N-Wine Vineyard Tuesday morning, Aug. 27, must work quickly. How many grapes they collect determines how much money they will make when they take them to the winery.
The workers keep a fast pace because nobody wants to be the slow picker, they’re all sharing the same amount of money, said Cheo Serrano, owner of D-Vine Farm Management.
D-Vine Farm Management is responsible for the maintenance of the vineyard; which also includes breeding the grapes to harvesting. Once the grapes are harvested, they are sold to Lorimar Winery.
“They work hard,” Serrano said, commenting about his workers.
For example, if 20 bins are filled, they divide the money by how many workers were working that day.
“Watch how fast they go, it’s crazy,” said Frank Griswold, owner of Frank-N-Wine Vineyard, watching the workers collect grapes and then putting them into large buckets. It’s best to pick the grapes at night or early in the morning before it gets too hot, he said.
The grapes grown on the vineyard aren’t like your average table grapes; these are much smaller and are filled with seeds. Grapes that are dried out aren’t chosen for picking. However, once they are thrown on the dirt, they are tilled with a tractor, which keeps it furrowed. Tilling helps reseed the crop.
The vineyard is in a constant battle with birds, squirrels, and bees. Last year it had a lot of trouble with gophers.
Bees will take the juice out of grapes and this causes the grapes to become hollow, but not much can be done about it. Squirrels and gophers are trapped, and to prevent birds from picking at the grapes, netting is used.
Griswold moved from Orange County three years ago to Temecula and he hired Serrano to manage the vineyard because it was “fun and a tax write-off.”
“He was wound up tighter than a piano wire,” said Jim Miller, a local real estate broker, who was invited to watch the grapes being harvested. “He’s mellowed out