The Grade Cellars
Napa Valley, CA

The Grade Cellars

The vineyard workers make their way into a field of luscious, ripe grapes as the sun begins to creep through the mountains, offering a faint glimmer through the fog that had settled in the valley. You can smell and taste the sweetness in the air—it’s harvest time in Napa Valley. Equipped with a curved knife and a large container to catch the falling fruit, the team splits in adjacent rows cutting each cluster of cabernet sauvignon grapes. A tractor with a wagon attached to its rear follows the workers through the narrow rows to load all of the harvested grapes. There is a rhythm to it all; with every swift cut and brief nudge of the container lying on the ground as they make their way down the line.

I’m standing on the edge of the field with a large backpack loaded with camera gear, lenses, filters, and SD cards. My eyes have bags underneath them from the little sleep I was able to get, but the mere excitement of observing a harvest unfold in front of me has me quite awake—though the cup of coffee I’m drinking is helping too.

I can’t see Ben (Life & Thyme filmmaker and cinematographer) as he ventured deep into the field with a modified tripod that rests over his shoulder to stabilize his camera. With me is Tom Thornton, one of the proprietors of The Grade Cellars and owner of Winfield Vineyard—which we stand on. He has a look of joy and wonder as he stares at the fruit of his labor (literally) being harvested, which will then be turned into wine—Napa’s nectar. I too have a sense of wonder as I am eager to learn everything about the process and the nuance involved in creating a quality bottle of wine.

In the proceeding days, our job would be to capture every step of winemaking—from picking the grape to pouring the finished product in a glass. But more than anything, I was looking forward to meeting the cast of characters that play a role in all of this and capturing the passion that transpired right before us.

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