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Bringing My Dad Home, A Harvest Tablescape



the process or period of gathering in crops.

"Helping with the harvest."

Here in Sonoma County, you can begin to smell the sweet smells of harvest that are carried by the gentle breeze of late summer into fall throughout the County. The smell of dirt being moved around by the crews, tractors & trucks carrying out the crop to their destination. Big night lights shine upon vineyards at night, illuminating them as if it were daylight. Many have chosen this route of night picking to escape our Indian Summer & some vineyard managements have opted to use a machine to crop instead of a crew. But there is nothing better than hand-picking as it can offer superior results. Wineries eagerly await the arrival of fully loaded trucks lined up on their delivery path. Of course, the first step is catching the weight of the harvest; the bigger the number, the better the crop. Sugar levels were tested previously, giving the vineyard manager the go-ahead to haul in the grapes. A winemaker will hand sort the grape bunches, sorting the under or over-ripped bunches & removing the leaves that somehow snuck their way in. The truck driver then receives that go-ahead by a gentle hand movement to pull right in & pull the lever to release the grapes to be dropped into the bin & the winemaking process has begun, known as crush.

In today's post, I will share with you my memory of my dad & this special time of year for us in Sonoma County & what was my dad's favorite time of year. I usually discuss details about the tablescape itself, but given the sentimental aspect of the post, I will leave the pictures to speak of their details. Thank you for understanding. I am happy to address any questions about items used in the comment section below.
Sonoma County Harvest Healdsburg
The Harvest of 2023 Dry Creek Valley
Just as the saying goes, "It takes a village.", Well, it stands true here in the world of wine country. It begins with the Vineyard Manager & the management team. I won't go into depth about the role of what the company does as it's an endless job. But it takes a village to get to harvest, crush, bottling & a glass of your favorite wine into your hands.
2023 Dry Creek Valley Crop Wine
I saw my dad every year harvest his vineyards for as long as I can remember. It was a very stressful time. But yet very rewarding in more ways than just financially. I remember the Harvest Parties he would do at the end of harvest to give thanks to his employees by having a massive party at the ranch. From trays of food, all sorts of food, to live Mexican music, drinks, dancing & the sound of joy. If I recall correctly, our family priest would be present before harvest & after to give his blessings. My dad loved his catholic religion.
Dry Creek Valley Vintage Glassware Wine
2016 would be my dad's last harvest; it wasn't what it used to be as he was too tired from his recent battle with cancer & life. The hustle was quieter. I wonder if he knew that would be his last harvest, but I could still see that sparkle in his eye. My dad loved what he did & it showed in numerous local newspaper articles & awards. I was very proud of him; he made a life for himself & for his loved ones that only one could dream of.

As the year was making a full circle, his health started to deteriorate more & more. He passed right before the harvest of 2017, August 13th. I was blessed to have my family trust me to organize the flower arrangements. I worked with a local floral shop & with my mother & sister. We picked out the flowers, as burgundy as we could have the florist find, as burgundy was his favorite color. Roses & carnations surrounded him, but I knew what my dad needed grapes clusters of grapes would surround him. Each arrangement was beautifully made & designed, especially for him. He was the king of harvest & there would be no other way.

Harvest Tablescape
The years went by, & harvest came & went. I have since moved away from the center of it. I no longer hear the hustle, the magic, or even the smell of harvest that was so engraved in my body for more than half of my life. It could be the way one's body protects us from feeling loss. But subconsciously, I know it's harvest.

Healdsburg CA Wine Grapes

This year, I knew what I needed to do; I needed to reconnect with who I was, but mostly, I brought my dad back, & I brought him back home to Dry Creek Valley. With all the heaviness in my heart & that thick knot in my throat, I created a Harvest Table for my dad. My dear cousin opened up her home, a place my dad loved, knew & worked by. Our ranch was only a hop & skip away, too. If I stood on a ladder, I could see the top of what used to be my little home.

Many were around me as I created the table that late Saturday afternoon. But I couldn't hear a thing. I was so in tuned with what I was creating & feeling the entire time. I could listen to the background conversations & nod when asked if I was okay or if I needed something. All I felt was the stickiness that being in the vineyard leaves on you, the dirt lifted up by boots that would create little dust clouds as I walked around the table. I vividly remember my dad when his boots lifted those dust clouds. I can smell the raw dirt & how it felt on his hands when I would run to catch up to him as a child; I can remember everything about him, somehow more clearly, there in the valley. I felt my dad near me; just as every memory of us came to me that evening, I felt his presence more potent than ever before. It was as if he was holding my hand to help me place the gentle ironstone, silverware & glassware, & the brass "E" in the center, representing his name, Elias. I knew he was behind me as I snapped photos, steadily holding the camera as my arms felt weak. The sky was full of beautiful clouds, the sun shining through the clouds as if my dad was saying, "I am with you."

Vintage tableware in a harvest tablescape Ca

vintage fruit plates with gold rim

Harvest fruit tablescape

vintage dinnerware fall tablescape harvest

Dry Creek Valley Ca Wine Harvest

Dry Valley Wine Grapes

Grape Vineyards in Healdsburg Ca
I brought my dad home that day, but that day opened up a mourning experience that I did not anticipate. I experienced his passing all over again & the sadness of not physically being here. But I did something for him, & so it has been worth the pain. It took me a while longer to share this post with you here & on my Instagram post because of these feelings & also, it was a way of me holding onto my dad a bit longer. He was an amazing man & his legacy deserves to be shared. His love of harvest & all that he did in the industry, he was the best & one of the first. Over the past six years, I have encountered many people who tell me how wonderful he was. I know firsthand as I am his daughter.

Dry Creek Valley Wines

Grief thru clouds Dry Creek Valley

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