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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Sonoma County wineries grapple with keeping workers safe as annual harvest nears

With about two months before the first wine grapes will be picked on the North Coast, wineries and vineyards are gearing up for an annual harvest that will be unlike any other, given the coronavirus.

Winemakers are running checks on cluster counts on the grapevines that will determine yields. And vineyard farmworkers are removing leaves from vines to get the right amount of sun on the fruit to make it most favorable.

All the preparation for regional harvest, which was valued at $1.7 billion last year, is being done with greatly enhanced safety measures to try to keep the virus away. Workers are having their temperatures checked and being spaced at least 6 feet along vineyard rows. Cellar crews in wineries are grappling with how they will process the fruit and they realize they will have to take in far fewer grapes each day.

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