by Wine Club Manager Jillian Oksen
Another year has gone by and our 2021 harvest is upon us. Over the years, you may have met our wonderful tasting room staff, but I would like to introduce you to our harvest crew. These are the amazing people that make the award-winning wines you enjoy with family and friends.
While Terry, our winemaker, may need no introduction, it’s important to know that he is more than a winemaker: He is our resident dad-joke teller. I’m telling you I can’t get through a meeting without at least one dad joke or a wine/cheese pun. He is always uplifting and makes everyone laugh while also keeping us on our toes. This is the same quality that he brings to his winemaking. He strives to improve the winemaking process. Whether through a novel process or classic winemaking technique, he drives the team to greatness. Terry is coming up on his 30th harvest. His first harvest was in 1991, back when there were only 22 wineries in Paso Robles! Terry is a family man who likes to spend time with his spouse, children, and grandchildren. He surfs any opportunity that he gets and loves his poodle, Quincy.
Anthony is our assistant winemaker, and that title doesn’t begin to describe what he does at the winery. You’ll find that Anthony has many talents from helping with the farm animals, to hanging lights for events to maintaining our heavy machinery. This is all on top of his outstanding winemaking skills and his can-do, positive attitude. Anthony is the go-to person for anything. He recently had his 5th year anniversary with Le Vigne! In his free time, he enjoys inline skating and playing with his puppy, Tito.
You know how they say, “behind every great man there is a great woman.” Well, let me introduce you to Michelle, our Enologist and production operations trainee that also just had her 5 year anniversary with Le Vigne. She not only works hard in the lab during harvest to monitor each fermentation, but she also performs QA/QC checks on wine during aging and bottling processes and is learning the ropes for ordering bottling supplies. Michelle writes all our tasting notes and tech sheets and helps to proof e-mails, newsletters, and graphics. If that’s not enough, she also helps with social media. Talk about a does it all person. For fun, Michelle quad skates, crochets, and attempts to entertain her toddler.
Question on a tank or barrel? Oswaldo is your guy. He is our Cellar Master and has been with us since June of 2018. Most often I find him on a forklift, working on barrels or checking on wine in the tanks. Oswaldo leads the cellar team in completing all the necessary actions that are required for winemaking including the important harvest tasks like crushing, pressing, and yeast inoculations. In his downtime, he can be found camping or boating with his family.
They say to watch out for the quiet ones, well that’s Jesus. From pump-overs to blending barrels he stays focused on efficiently executing work orders. We were fortunate to have Jesus join the team earlier this year. He has been involved in winemaking for his entire working career! Fun facts about Jesus: He loves Malbec and runs 6 miles every day.
Rafa, our Vineyard Manager, has worked for Le Vigne for 20 years and keeps the vines healthy and happy. It is his viticulture expertise that makes wine production possible. He works hand in hand throughout the year with the vineyard crew to prune, water, and maintain the vines to Terry and Anthony’s specifications. During harvest, he collects grapes from all over the vineyard for the winemaking team to use for picking decisions. He is also a talented mechanic, and his daughter Angela works at Le Vigne! In his downtime, he enjoys riding horses.
In addition to the regular cellar crew, during harvest, it’s all hands-on deck. Blanca is our events-planning, bottling line whisperer, labeling, cleaning, forklift-driving, queen who is no stranger to the lab. This year, she will join Michelle in performing the necessary chemical analysis. Blanca has worked at Le Vigne since 2008. Just like many of my coworkers, she is a multi-talented person and always has a positive attitude. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping and playing with her kids.
Daniel is our Warehouse and Bottling Line Manager who is also one of our main go-to people for events. During harvest, you can find him jumping from one tank to another for pump-overs. Just look up! He has been with us since 2006! He is a Dodgers fan through and through and enjoys working out and lifting weights. When he’s not working at the winery or the gym, he can be found fishing or using his smoker to make tasty food.
This year, Walt from the tasting room will join the crew on Sundays to help with monitoring fermentations along with performing pump-overs and the rest of the daily necessary harvest tasks. He is excited to get his hands dirty and then come back to the tasting room to tell you all about it!
While I’m not a part of the harvest crew I hope to get my feet dirty when the Corvina grapes come in this year. The Corvina grapes are used in our AmeRhone and we use the traditional foot-stomping method on them. It is something I have wanted to be a part of since I started working here. And Michelle is thankful to have the extra help!
With the excitement of harvest upon us, we also know that it also brings long days and hard work. It is all worth it in the end when we get to sit back and enjoy the product of our work and get to share it with you.
Cheers to another great Harvest!
Wine Club Manager