Harvest is in full swing and we’re all brimming over with grapes. Near-perfect climate has produced a large–and excellent–crop throughout Napa Valley and Virage is no exception. I’ve been busy in the field… Check out this short video of our pick!
That’s beautiful Carneros Merlot going into FYB’s (the small yellow bins) required by the Alpha Omega winery. It’s a controversial subject – picking into 40lb bins, then stacking them 32 per pallet vs. the more commonly used 1/2Ton bins. Growers and vineyard workers coined the FYB moniker – I’ll let you guess what the F stands for. For sure it’s quite a sight to see the trailer in the video chugging along the hillside with bins stacked 8-high… I don’t think I would do this again if I had a choice. But we all survived and it made for some beautiful imagery.
The FYB debate centers around whether, or not, a stack of small bins is truly more gentle on the fruit than a 2-high stack of large bins with clusters nestled among themselves. Is it marketing hype? To my way of thinking, success with FYBs clearly depends on how full they are, as 40lbs of flat surface can inflict some pressure on the FYB below, where a full 1/2T bin can distribute weight more gently by virtue of the structure of the clusters. Being out there with the workers, I see it’s difficult for the “pickers” to watch the fill-height of the bin while they’re picking. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the video.
When we use 1/2T bins, the crew still picks into small tubs, about the same size as FYBs, then runners consolidate the tubs into the larger bin being pulled through the rows by tractor, with yours truly, or another worker, riding along and pulling leaves as the fruit is layered up.