Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve celebrates third year of harvest from experimental vineyard

Dr. Molly Clemens in 2020 before the first harvest. Valley News/Courtesy photo
When locals think about the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, they think of a protected ecological site that is home to the beautiful Santa Margarita River which runs through it. They think of the history of the area, pristine tree canopies and diverse wildlife, but not typically a vineyard. Nevertheless, the SMER 3rd Annual Grape Harvest recently took place.Volunteers drove their 4-wheel drive vehicles to the site on Friday, Aug. 26, at 5 p.m. They set up camp, waited until 3:30 a.m. and donned their gloves and headlamps to start the harvest, which took three hours. They were finished at dawn.Grapes are harvested at night to preserve the freshness of the grapes; it takes less energy to cool them down for the cold maceration if they’re already cooler. Once the heat of the day s
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