Pinot noir ripening on netted vines at Kessler-Haak Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills On my way to work in Solvang this morning, I passed a truck pulling a trailer containing one bin of red grapes, headed west into Lompoc. I'm pretty sure I recognized the truck as one belonging to a Lompoc Ghetto-based winemaker.

I'm guessing said winemaker was making a grape delivery of either pinot noir or syrah grapes to a winery, his or someone else's site, and that the grapes were picked this early because they're destined for sparkling wine. Just my guess.

In the eight years since I first focused my eyes and ears on all things wine, I've sensed a shift in the atmosphere every August. Winemakers and vineyard managers spend more time strolling down rows of grapevines, testing grapes' brix levels at the same time they're testing the air for temperature and wind speed. They stare up at the sky.

Every day, another of the zillion or so vineyards I pass on my daily commute gets nets flung over its vines. Another day, another netting. (Netting vines is super hard work, just so you know).

When I pass one or more winemakers gathered together, I'll likely hear fragments of conversation that sound like: " … When do you think you'll …  " or "What about …. ?" and even … "Did you hear .. .?"

One might utter "It's been warm overnight," and the other might remark about an August night's sudden chill. And that's not the half of it …

So many unknowns go into the execution of an actual grape harvest that it's a wonder thousands take place daily in these parts. First off, there's weather to consider — especially heat and … R-A-I-N. (Shush! I didn't even say the would out loud).

There's equipment: Picking, transportation and storage. Don't forgot your gloves and plenty of water. Do we have enough clippers for everyone? Hats? Did I mention water? Will someone please bring some sunscreen ... I hear it's going to be a beautiful morning, out in the vineyard under sunny skies. We'll be serenaded by song birds — oh, wait. Those will be the hungry swallows, angry that We. Got. Here. First.

This is my love letter to the coming harvest, because it's just around the next turn, you know.