Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wine's Unsung Heroes

You don't see their names on the bottle label. You don't hear visitors talking about them in the tasting rooms. To most wine drinkers, they are invisible. Yet the manager of one of the world's 100 best vineyards says they are the winemakers. He's talking about the vineyard workers, the unsung heroes of wine.

They know the vineyard more intimately than most winemakers. In the dead of winter, they prune the vines. During long summer days they pull leaves so the sun ripens the grapes. In the hot summer sun they weed, often by hand with a hoe. They thin by cutting individual clusters of fruit to maximize the quality. And finally, sometimes in pouring rain or scorching sun, they harvest the wine grapes.

I've been fortunate enough to meet and photograph quite a few vineyard workers around the world. Can you tell which country the photograph is taken?

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