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Missoula vineyard breezes through harvest with help from volunteers

Posted at 9:02 PM, Oct 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 16:50:01-04

Fire season jeopardized vineyards and wineries along the West Coast like never before.

While Montana felt some of the effects of those intense fires, a Montanan winemaker told MTN News that his vineyard didn’t see any damage, but rather, they’re facing timing issues.

“The clock is ticking!” exclaimed Andy Sponseller, winemaker, and co-owner of Ten Spoon Winery and Vineyard in Missoula.

Wildfire smoke and heavy rainfall in the spring left Ten Spoon with a narrow window when it came time to harvest over the weekend.

Sponseller said his reds could’ve used another week of sunshine, perhaps, but for the most part, the vineyard will finish this season unscathed.

Harvest, however, required all hands on deck. Luckily for Ten Spoon, the Missoula community lends a hand each year for this particular weekend.

“Citizens from Western Montana showed up with their masks on and did a wonderful job the last two days and got most of it down,” said Sponseller.

A total of about 150 people volunteered for the annual harvest, and social distancing was a piece of cake seeing as the rows of the vineyard are already spaced out.

Matt and Mary Halvorson grabbed some snippers and volunteered for the first time. Knowing they’ll be drinking Ten Spoon wine in the future, the event made them feel part of the process.

“The biggest thing that does work about this, is people getting in touch with food production, and people love to be out in the open space and meet new people,” said Sponseller. “There's just a lot of good things about it. It makes you feel productive.”

The grapes picked over the weekend won’t be ready for drinking until 2022. But you can still purchase Ten Spoon Wine at grocery stores across the state.