Welcome to the first rendition of the Coombsville Questionnaire. This series aims to highlight a different side of our vintners and growers by asking them questions outside the norm. Harvest Duhig, the cofounder of Duhig Wine, a boutique grape-to-glass Cabernet Sauvignon ranch, shares what she would do with an extra hour of the day and why cultivating a vegetable garden is important to her. Read on to learn more about Duhig in Harvest’s own words.
Combsville Vintners & Growers: What was your first job in wine, hospitality, or farming? How did it set you on your course to where you are today?
Harvest Duhig: From a young age, our mom always pushed us into nature, finding creativity in the ordinary area of our yard, the field next to our house, and the neighborhood. I learned early on that being outside was freedom. Additionally, my grandmothers were avid gardeners and tended large seasonal gardens. Closing my eyes, I can smell the sweetness of freshly picked strawberries, which were half eaten when I made it to the kitchen. These foundational experiences set the stage for my love of growing things. After an impromptu short stay in Maui in 1995, I sold all my personal possessions–including a 1967 Mustang and dresser—and moved! Swimming in the ocean daily allowed me to listen to my inner self. One sunny morning I popped up out of the ocean and was like, “Your name is Harvest, you’re from Napa Valley, and you love growing plants. Why aren’t you studying grape growing?” And just like that, I was on my way!
CVG: What is your favorite wine, NOT from Napa, and why?
HD: That’s a tough one. My go-to is Roederer Estate Brut. It is a beautifully consistent refreshing sparkling wine that seems to hit on every occasion. It drinks like an expensive Champagne, yet is an attractive California sparkler.
CVG: If you had an extra hour every day, how would you use it?
HD: I do a lot right now, so the extra hour would just get allocated to the current cauldron of projects and practices that includes meditation, physical exercise, building a garden, creating green belts at our home ranch and vineyard, growing the butterfly habitat full of Milkweed, germinating seeds, planting a donation garden, raising chickens and swine, and tending our vineyard. . . Phew! There is more, but I spare the nitty gritty.
CVG: What is on your music playlist during crush?
HD: My love of music crosses many genres. Crush lists vary. I mix the playlists up a bit and build them more on mood. For example, I use classical music when scheduling, on the computer, or doing data entry. Cathartic loud indie, rock, and rap when I’m in the vineyard, and southern rock in the tank farm.
CVG: How do you unwind and decompress after a busy day, week, or season?
HG: The life of a farmer/winemaker/proprietress is demanding. For each success, there are ten failures. It is mentally and physically challenging. I hold in high regard my decompression and rejuvenation. I practice Bikram yoga. Napa Valley Hot Yoga Studio literally saves my peace of mind. I take quick sunset trips to Dillon Beach to let the sea and salt do their thing. I digitally practice The Class, [a workout from fitness trainer Taryn Toomey], which keeps me grounded. I take hikes in nature to reset. All these are vital for me to remain curious and uplifted and not take myself so seriously!
CVG: If you could have dinner with any person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
HD: I would love to spend time with Aristotle. His curiosity didn’t kill the cat; it set the course for our modern world with abundant plant, animal, and physical science and philosophy that bears true today. I can imagine that during his life, his findings and philosophies were unpopular and may have even been deemed dangerous, yet he persisted. It is that type of grit and fortitude that I admire. I’d be elated to be in the presence and share a glass of Duhig Wine with Ms. Lauren Hill and Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes. These women’s art resonated with my younger self and helped me in my journey.
CVG: What is your favorite professional accomplishment?
HD: Buying land that is now our Coombsville Home Ranch with the vision of raising a family in the country in a wild and free capacity. A vineyard placed gently on the ground, a wine that builds relation and community, and raising an annual donation garden to give back to our community. I am most proud of this.
CVG: What are you doing to embrace your specific growing conditions?
HD: We live with the land period. We practice common sense, ethical, and more native practices, such as using only what you need and giving what you have back to nature. We build the health of our soil with regenerative practices. We are a no-till, permanent cover crop vineyard that encourages microbiome diversity. We create green belts where dirt once was, promote a wide variety of wildlife to stop in and hunt or rest, and have planted various trees, fruit, and flowers to avoid being a monoculture.
CVG: What charities do you support?
HD: I have a very personal story I only recently shared publicly. The Napa Valley Food Bank was a very important resource when I was a child here in Napa. My mother found herself suddenly single and head of the house. She had been a stay-at-home mom with no income of her own. She was too embarrassed to ask for assistance from her family but found resources at the Food Bank. For a few months, she scrambled to put meals on the table. I went with her to a place called the food bank. She explained to me it was like a grocery store that could give us food for free and that, in emergencies, we could get groceries that would carry us over until her next paycheck. I didn’t question where or how the food got to this magical free market, but I was grateful. It took the pressure of food scarcity off my little shoulders and freed me up to play and not worry about where dinner would come from. I am eternally grateful for the food bank and the diverse community it serves, and every year, I plant a donation garden to give back to this wonderful cause that helped me.
Cover photography by Frank Guiterez; selfies taken by Harvest Duhig.