It is hard to believe, but another year of grapes is over! We are now done with the last grape harvest of 2013.
We harvested all the Montepulciano and Aglianico last Saturday. Just like that, in one fell swoop - they were gone!
Now, we must wait another year for the delicious taste of grapes.
Well, maybe I AM being a bit dramatic because, there are still a few grape clusters that did not come off in the harvest and, they are ripe for the picking.
But, it is not the same.
You have to hunt for the grapes now!
You may have gathered that there is a bit of sadness after harvest, once all is said and done. Put yourself in our shoes. We have babied these clusters and cared for the vines all year. And, now they are gone! In a way, it is like parenting. As parents, you put your life into your children only to watch them grow up and leave - beginning a life of their own. And, that is as it should be.
In fact, that is partly where the joy comes in. As parents, joy that we have done the job of raising successfully, godly children. As grape growers, that the crop is out of the field and the money in the bank! Just as we want our children to be transformed and successful after they leave us, so we want the grapes to be highly valued by the wineries and transformed into successful wines.
Yes, it is joyful time!
Saturday was perfect weather for harvesting - the temperatures never got out of the 60's F. We chose to harvest during the day since the crop load was not so heavy. The real deciding factor was the desire to give Duchman Family Winery the cleanest and ripest fruit. To do that, we needed daylight to adjust the Pellenc grape harvester. Extra adjusting was required this year since we had varying degrees of ripeness in the fruit thanks to the late freeze. It killed many of the primary buds and resulted in secondary bud production.
Duchman Family Winery had sent a reefer (a refrigerated 18 wheeler) with bins which we loaded onto a trailer.
The trailer was taken to strategic locations so the Pellenc could unload the on-board bins as they filled with grapes.
I never tire of the sight of grapes - I wish you could smell and taste them!
As the harvester unloads its bins, the grapes tend to be dumped in the bins in high piles. Since the bins must be stacked 2 high in the reefer, the boys shovel grapes from one bin to the next to level them out.
Now comes the part that makes me nervous!
The loaded bins are removed from the trailer and transferred to the reefer using a tractor with forks on the front.
This may not sound like a big deal, but those bins can weigh 15oo lbs! When the bins are that heavy, the back tractor tires lift up and can't get the needed traction to move. So, to counter the weight of the bins, the older (and thus heavier) boys have ridden on the back of the tractor so the front wheels will stay on the ground! Maybe we should get a bigger tractor???
If the bin slides or falls off the forks of the tractor, well, let's just say - that is a lot of grapes to fall to the ground! Thankfully, this harvest was uneventful but, it has happened :(
Next stop - the winery!
We harvested 12 acres of grapes Saturday and it took about 6 hours to finish. Beginning around 7:30 am, it was a long but exhilerating day.
Then, it was party time! Almost all the children, spouses and grandchildren were here and we celebrated with a cook-out. Hot dogs, homemade french fries, chips and to complete the festivities - Buttermilk Pie with Kefir!