Harvest wrapped up for us before the rains came to Anderson Valley. Our final pick, from Nash Mill Vineyard, took place the night of September 30. At dawn the next day, a truckload of beautiful pinot noir grapes arrived at our winery in San Francisco, amid a colorful sunrise.
We hand sorted the fruit, pulling out the usual things: a few unripe berries here and there and some leaves. Midway through, we were surprised by the sight of an unexpected visitor atop the grapes traveling along the conveyor-like sorting table.
A praying mantis hitched a ride from Mendocino County all the way to the city, where it nestled within our pinot noir grapes. One of the interns scooped it up, escorting the confused insect to a patch of dry grass outside the winery.
Over the years, we’ve seen our share of spiders, bees, stink bugs, too many earwigs to count (several followed me home after this sort), and even a tiny frog; but this was the first mantis that I had spied. Some cultures would take this as a sign of good luck or a symbol of patience; both are good portents for the 2018 harvest.