Wine Country in the Fall: Grape Harvest & Olive Oil

November 16, 2019

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Sonocaia Estate Vineyeards, Dysfunctional Family Winery and Hydeout Sonoma.

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The last ton of grapes is safely in the winery, and in celebration of the end of the 2019 harvest Hydeout Sonoma hosted a BBQ lunch for the whole hard-working winery team. The joke is that ‘it takes a lot of beer to make good wine’, and in this case, yes, guilty as charged. That, and many many hamburgers. In the featured cover photo, from left to right – Señors Altuve, Edgardo, Ricardo, Jose, Rex, Miguel, Ken, and Sebastian. 

Start of harvest

Quick flashback to July 2019 – the start of the harvest and the celebratory Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers dinner at Donum Winery in Carneros.


Grape harvest – cover crop seed

Once the harvests are completed, and winemaking chores are put to bed, it’s time to spread cover crop seed in the vineyard. We do this to secure the precious soil from runoff and add nutrition, break down clay, provide nematode suppression, and add beauty. Here in the back of our Polaris Ranger are a couple of 50 pound bags of “Brassica mix” – 40% Nemagon mustard, 30% common mustard, 15% Canola, and 15% daikon radish. This fast growing cover crop has the ability to produce up to 4 tons of bio-matter per acre!

Cynthia and Martin

Then just like clockwork, it’s time to start harvesting the ripe olives for oil. Cynthia and Martin start the long hard process of hand-harvesting.

Ken in olive tree

Here I am up in the olive tree getting the last fruit from the top of the tree.

Ken and Martin

Fog over head, still early in the morning and just getting started, we examine the fruit for quality and celebrate being underway. Farming, growing things organically, trying to live somewhat off the land, all a real pleasure.

Olives raw in bin on trailer

All done, about 500 pounds, equals about 7 gallons of extra virgin oil.

Cyn and Zan

Delivered to Figone’s Olive Oil Company where the Hydeout Sonoma olives will be milled. Here, Cynthia and Zan.

Olive hopper and Frank Figone

Olives loaded into the hopper, then cleaned and ready for the mill. Proprietor Frank Figone met us at the loading dock and supervised the press.

Click here for a brief olive oil processing video

Olive oil flowing

The big payoff – the start of a small stream of extra virgin oil exits the press.

Olive Oil 2019

The finished product – 4.3 gallons of extra virgin olive oil…

For more information – Click here to visit the Figone Olive Oil website

Figone’s is a great place to shop, in person or online, for delicious authentic olive oil products!

And in other Hydeout Sonoma Farms and Dysfunctional Family Winery news…


Our final harvest from the Hydeout Sonoma gardens – the last of the tomatoes and peppers, these are mainly Early Girl, Better Boy, and Roma tomatoes along with Shishito and Padron peppers.


Ripening Persimmon – colorful, and famously packed with lots of vitamin C. Just in time to prevent winter colds.


After the grape and olives and garden harvests, it’s time for a little fun – a game Jenga ends in a pile of blocks – with Paige Locke, Gail Diserens, Cynthia Wornick, and Elaine Smith looking on.


Finally, some time off – heading down the coast on Highway One from Sonoma on our way to Los Angeles.

Death Valley

And 5 days later we turned north and pointed the bike towards Death Valley (see the sign).


As the weather cools, our estate Sagrantino vineyard shows off its fall colors…two chemicals are responsible for the fall coloration of leaves, carotenoids create orange and yellow pigments, and anthocyanins create shades of red and purple. The carotenoids are present in the leaf all summer long, but they’re masked by the green of chlorophyll.


…the harvest moon rises over Sonoma Valley.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Despite what seems like turmoil everywhere, the great majority of us are blessed with ample food, clothing, shelter, and love. And for those that are not, we are all doing our best to help. Thank goodness we are not living in a time of widespread famine and disease. Let’s celebrate all that is good. Warmly. Ken

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  1. gail

    Lovely! Thanks Ken

    • Ken Wornick

      Appreciate the support Gail.



    • Ken Wornick

      And a wonderful Fall season to you as well!

  3. Linda Lev

    I want to move, looking forward to seeing all of you!

    • Ken Wornick

      Wine and olive oil will be waiting for your arrival.


    Great , thanks Ken

  5. Evye Szanto

    Great article.
    Fun to keep up with the going ons at Hydeout!!!!!

  6. Ranger Nic

    Love Frank – he is so generous in teaching. Have you seen the handheld olive harvesting tools he recommends? Powered rakes. Do you have any cover crop seed left over? Location to buy? PS – you the man

    • Ken Wornick

      Ranger Nic – Cover crop seed – don’t have any extra seed left, sorry, but it’s very easy to get – Laballisters Seed Co in Sebastopol.
      I am using mostly Brassica mix but you can look at their list and choose what’s needed for your place/issue…water retention?, clay?, nutrition?, and YOUR favorite…Bee Friendly, mostly clovers –
      Yes indeed, the manual and powered olive rakes are useful. Neighbor Rob Lucchetti has a good number of the powered rakes and mostly likes them (although they require quite a bit of maintenance) so sometimes just doing it the old-fashioned way is faster and more peaceful.

  7. Linda

    Looks like you and Cynthia are living the good life! Hope to visit you at the Hydeout someday. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Ken Wornick

      Oh yes, please put you and the Wendell on your next west coast tour!

  8. Catherine

    I want a tour!! Loved seeing you and Cynthia at Streblow’s. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving ?

    • Ken Wornick

      We’re gonna make that happen with a encore date in 2020…


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