An extensive system of earthen levees, creating low lying tracts and islands separated by sloughs, have enabled wide-spread farming throughout the delta. Its peat soil makes it perhaps one of the most fertile agricultural areas in California, contributing billions of dollars to the states economy: That includes our donation of $1200 a ton for the Chenin blanc. We passed by expansive fields of tomatoes, sprawling pear orchards, swaths of golden feed corn, and vast sea-like plantings of alfalfa replete with marauding, rapacious great blue herons.
We drove through the delta towns of Rio Vista, Isleton, Ryde, Walnut Grove, and Locke (the term town is used loosely here), finally arriving at our destination: Courtland, elevation 5'...yes, it is extremely flat out there. The Chenin blanc had already been picked and we just had to load it up and take the berries back to Napa (apparently we have a shortage of grapes in Napa!)
Evidently everybody else in the delta was harvesting that morning too, and not just grapes. We were at one point delayed behind a couple of giant, dual-gondola trucks brimming over with tomatoes and cucumbers, which resembled a colossal mobile Greek salad (albeit sans feta.) At least it did to Vinogirl, who like the herons, had began to work up an appetite.
Returning to Vinoland there was just enough time for a quick cup of Earl Grey and a handful of Cadbury's Chocolate Animals before Vinomaker cracked the whip and the processing of the grapes began.
Happy harvest 2009 everyone!