This picture has not been photoshopped. Many people don't realize that grapes from vineyards in Santa Barbara County and many parts of California are mostly picked in the late evening or early morning. John Hilliard, owner and winemaker, from Hilliard Bruce helps us understand why. You can also follow John's daily harvest updates on Twitter and the entire Santa Barbara County harvest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #sbcharvest.
This picture appears to be taken at night. What day and time was this photo taken?
This picture was taken at 9pm Sept 7, as we started harvesting Pinot noir. The crew kept picking until 5am. Ouch! 12 Tons. Thank you Juve, Augustine and the crew.
This is our special Block 2, which whispers namaste (in Hindu) to the sun each morning from it's hillside repose. Vineyards really do that in Santa Barbara.
Why do you pick at night or early morning?
The grapes sleep in the fifty degree Sta. Rita Hills night - that protective natural refrigeration protects them through the winemaking process. Grapes come with friends too (native yeasts and bacteria) and keeping those guys chilled prevents off flavors.
Hilliard Bruce is a new producer in Santa Barbara County. Why did you choose Santa Barbara County and the Sta. Rita Hills specifically?
We came to Santa Barbara as escapees from a distant land called Texas, where every other vehicle is a pickup truck, and nobody outside Austin believes in Global Warming. Santa Barbara, however, is harmonious, from Prius driving farmers to innovative and exploratory winemakers. And Sta. Rita Hills is
In addition to being a winemaker and grape grower, you are a Master Gardner and grow some rare and unusual plants and trees on your property. Tell us more about some of the non-grape projects on your property.
Christine and I are plant crazy and Santa Barbara is the place to embrace nature, so we began cultivating and harvesting avocados, apples, blackberries, raspberries, lettuce, artichokes and pine nuts. We even a planted a collection of weird Australian shrubs and some nearly extinct trees. We built an 80 ton stati aerated compost building, a reservoir with floating bioremediation islands, and enough solar panels to power the entire vineyard.
Your beautiful wife, Christine (Bruce), is also a successful gardener and Arabian horse breeder. How did you both meet?
We were next door neighbors as kids. Later, Christine had a career playing keyboards in bands and I was a visual artist who had a day job running a family shipyard. It was love at first sight between two misfits. We work great together: she makes the Chardonnay, tends the gardens and feeds the horses. I make the Pinot noir, keep the remote control on my side of the bed, and try to answer the inevitable questions from God.