Harvest is a Workout! Here’s 5 Stretches to Keep You Limber

Harvest is a Workout! Here’s 5 Stretches to Keep You Limber

Loading and unloading boxes.

Filling and emptying tanks.

Scaling catwalks.

Dragging hoses.

And shoveling literally TONS of grape skins and seeds 

Are you sore yet? Maybe a little stiff? A little worse for the wear?


Harvest can do that to cellar crews, who quickly find themselves leaping from zero to 100 in the physical workout game, as 14-hour days of living, sleeping and dreaming about grapes becomes reality. 

 So while the press drains, the last bin of the day get hosed out, and you’re waiting to shovel out that fermenter… or if you’re just sitting down for lunch break… let certified yoga teacher and wine professional Kimberly Drake share five ideas for safely keeping our bodies limber.


Legs Up the Wall

10,000 steps a day is a breeze when walking vineyard rows, fermentation cellars and barrel halls, so for those tired legs, elevate them on a chair on break. Even better, lay on your back with your legs up the wall.  

Kristie Tacey, owner and winemaker of Tessier Winery, encourages her team to take a quick 10-minute break to put their legs up the wall either at home or in the cellar. This inverted position relieves edema of the lower extremities, relaxing the back and provides relief from the force placed upon the feet and legs during the day.


Watch Your Back

Getting fruit off the vine is some of the most backbreaking work. Earlier this week, winemaker Dan Petroski and his crew of 16 workers handpicked their grapes and EACH of them moved more than 1400 pounds of grapes from the vine to the tractor in one go.

That’s a lot to carry, and it’s murder on the back.

For backs that need a break, Drake recommends a simple forward bend to gently stretch the entire backside of the body, especially the hamstrings, relieving compression and tension in the lower back.


Stairway to Heaven

Anyone who has tanks in their winery most likely has stairs, and at large scale wineries, workers can spend hours, days and weeks scampering up and clamoring down steel stairs and catwalks.

Which means that knees can take a beating. 

For stretching the knees and thighs, “Warrior II” is a safe pose for people with knee issues to gently stretch, strengthen and stabilize the knee and tone the thighs and legs. 

Break on Through

“Who needs the gym when you have manual punchdowns?” laughed Godfather of Zin, Joel Peterson. Referring to the manual process of submerging the cap of skins and seeds that rise to the top of a red wine fermentation, manual punchdowns are a high-intensity workout.

Which means that shoulders can take a beating. 

(Are you noticing the pattern yet?)

Shoulder rolls are a simple way to stretch this workhorse part of the body. With fingertips on each shoulder, bringing elbows toward each other in the front of the body stretches shoulder blades and upper back. Raise your elbows to stretch the triceps, and pull shoulders wide to stretch the chest and front of the shoulders. Finally, pull elbows away from each other for a deep shoulder and chest stretch. 

Hells Bells

For Napa Valley veteran winemaker Tony Coltrin, 45 vintages of experience have taught him that there’s no more intense workout than shoveling up to 40 pounds of marc (seeds and skins) out of a drained fermenter for an hour. Your entire body is engaged, and with that contraction, focus and twisting, a simple stretch like “downward dog” helps counteract it all. 

Downward facing dog elongates the cervical spine and strengthens the core, hamstrings and lower back. Keep your knees bent if hamstrings are tight to protect your back, and a few breaths here will help calm the body down and slow the heart rate.


So back in the vineyard, as grape skins soften, sugars rise, and seeds lignify, keeping your body supple and limber is a helpful way to reduce muscle fatigue over the marathon coming weeks.

As Peterson insists, stretching your mind through curiosity helps a whole lot too.


Meet The Tribe:

Our community is only as strong as the company we keep, and here we meet some of the folks who make our profession so dynamic.

Joel Peterson fermenter.jpg

Joel Peterson - “Godfather of Zin” and Founder, Once and Future Wine 

Years In the Industry: 46

  • In 1976, in a fit of hubris, I started Ravenswood winery making 327 cases of Old Vine Dry Creek Zinfandel. We grew Ravenswood to the point where we went public (traded on the NASDAQ) and ultimately sold the winery to Constellation Brands in 2001.

  • Once and Future is a smaller (under 3,000 cases), hands-on winery, that only makes the wines that I love, featuring unique single vineyard designated old vineyards, made in the same way I made wine in the early years at Ravenswood.

  • Morgan Twain Peterson, Joel's son, founded Bedrock Wine Company and recently earned the Master of Wine degree.

My Biggest Challenge To Wellness:
Age related entropy. At 71 I continue to be engaged in all facets of the wine business with the usual challenges to wellness. Those would be exceptionally decadent winemaker dinners, long distance airline travel, irregular sleep, and an abundance of readily available delicious liquid grape refreshment. Did I mention the sales stress anxiety?

Overlay that with a decreasing metabolism coupled with muscles and tendons that no longer enjoy the abuse to which they were once subjected without complaint, and you have a real challenge.

How I keep it Together To Stay Well:
I learned some years ago that staying well is a proactive endeavor. To combat those amazing dinners I maintain a mostly vegetarian at other times. Staying hydrated and using saline nasal mist helps with the plane travel.

I have learned that I don’t have to be the last to leave the party (though as I get older I seem to be among the first to leave). Delicious grape beverage availability has become an exercise in taste, enjoyment and knowledge rather than consumption (except when it comes to the nightly glass of Champagne).

While I have always made a point of exercising (mostly swimming) I have added a morning routine that includes pilates, yoga and meditation that has done wonders for the stress and the complaining body parts. As you get older it is hard not to start dividing your days as good days and bad days.

At the moment I definitely have more good days than bad. I plan to keep that going for as long as it is in my power to do so. 

How can we connect with you?
You can connect with Joel on Facebook, Instagram or Once and Future Wine


What We’re Reading:

There's no shortage of wine stories and media inundating our IN Boxes. Here's what has piqued our interest this week.

Smart Branding Key to Future Wine Sales – Liza Zimmerman, WineSearcher.com

“The Silicon Valley Bank's Wine Division's founder says demographic shifts are transforming the industry.”

It’s Like Mansplaining but for Race – what the wine industry can learn about black consumers – C.Huyghe, Forbes.com

“What more does the wine community need to know about African American consumers?”

Let's Meet Up!

As work life has it, we are traveling over the next few months and would love to see you.  Check out details on the Let's Meet Up! page.

Drop a line to  rebecca@abalancedglass.com or cathy@enolytics.com if you are interested in getting together for practice, a chat or a great glass together.

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