Ramble On

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Harvest at Wisteria

It is harvest season for the white grape varieties at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard, so we’ve been helping out as neighbors and volunteers with the Seyval, Traminnette, and Chardonnay harvests.  Even though the vineyard has only been open a few years, Sue and Moussa have already established some excellent traditions, so I’ve got a couple of posts lined up this week.  The red varieties won’t be ready for a few more weeks – we may head back over to lend a hand for that as well.

When I interned over at Public House Produce during my furlough last summer, one of the things I learned about farming is that it tends to start early.  I’m still not generally satisfied with the explanations I have been given for this practice, but I played along with the folks at Wisteria, just as I did with David last year.  We showed up at seven a.m. and there were a bunch of neighbors already there. 

It turned out we were just in time for the start of things – a local priest comes out to bless the harvest.  The blessing is complete with incense, prayers, and holy water.  You get the sense of deep roots for this ritual – humans have been enjoying the fruit of the vine for a few millennia now, after all. 

Everyone soon broke up and headed to the vines after the blessing.  The first crop that was ready was the Seyval.  This is a hybrid white variety that does well in cool climates, including upstate New York, England, and here.    

It’s a pretty straightforward thing to harvest grapes – you pretty much know what you’re looking for, and they usually aren’t hidden, although on a few of the vines you might have to poke around in the leaves to find a last few clusters.

The volunteer crew was a mix of experienced hands and newbies, like Mary and me, but we made quick work of that section, clipping the clusters from their stems and laying them into the yellow tubs.  The tubs are collected by a little tractor and hauled over to the crush pad near the cellar, and soon all of the pickers had moved over there for the next step – de-stemming and crushing the grapes.

That’s where I’ll pick up the story tomorrow.  In the meantime, here’s a link to the Wisteria Farm and Vineyards website: http://www.wisteriavineyard.com
Wisteria is also a member of Page County Grown – you can take a look at that website here: http://pagecountygrown.com/

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