Thursday, October 7, 2010
FRUIT OF THE VINE
You may recall that I had wondered awhile back how the local vineyards made out this year, given how well my uncultivated wild grape vine did this summer. I decided to find out first hand: I went grape picking at a local winery!
Wednesdays in October, the manager at Natali Vineyards hands 15 volunteers pruning shears, gloves, and a plastic bin and, after a quick lesson on what to keep and what to give back to the soil, sends them off down the rows of grapevines for the morning. The vineyard gets an eager, earnest and interested crew for the price of lunch (and on this day, a bottle of wine per picker).
Even though it isn't always a perfect economic trade-off in favor of the winery—there were a couple dozen of us there on this morning, and they threw in a (free, all-inclusive) wine tasting after lunch—the staff feels the volunteers do a better job than paid personnel.
And the excellent PR will certainly pay off in spades. Immediately, too: many people, in addition to saying they'd be back and would tell their friends about the vineyard, added at least one purchased bottle to their free one on their way out.
In about three hours, we managed to pull in all of the grapes off of the four long lanes of vines slated for harvest: 3200 pounds of them! Uh, yeah, the cultivated vines were as happy with the season (dry and hot) as my wild vine was…
What makes this story really funny is that I don't drink alcohol. Wine especially smells and tastes like vinegar to me.
The motivation for bolting out of the house (a few minutes late and without advance notice) for such an odd excursion, aside from a Nature Nut's curiosity about all of the vineyards springing up in the county over the last fifteen or so years, was the stunningly gorgeous fall morning and the resultant high probability of an incredible photo opportunity.
Yeah, that paid off in spades for me, if I do say so myself. (Have I mentioned how much I love my Nikon CoolPix? These photos are either straight out of the camera or only very lightly tweaked.) I even had the boss himself exclaiming over some of my personal morning's "harvest".
It was, I confess, merely in admiration of his grapes, however, not the photography… Deservedly so: it's amazing what this vineyard & winery has been able to accomplish in just ten years.
On the off chance that he liked the photos too, the best of the lot (about half of them—better even than I expected) will be going to the winery for them to use if/as they'd like. I'm thinking that, given its 100% fruit, no additional flavorings, 15.9% alcohol by volume [Ed. Note: it may be the banana (yes, banana) wine that's that strong...], a bottle (or two) of their strawberry wine would be something even I might find palatable...
We may have been picking white grapes, but by evening my fingertips had darkened with a faint tint of purple. (That'll teach me to rip up my cuticles.) At least the finger the wasp stung—leave it to Nature Girl to find what was probably the only wasp nest in the place—was no longer swollen by the time I made it back home. I knew that all of that grape juice had to be good for something other than making wine!
Category: out and about