- Janette Keating
Chapter 6: 2020 Grapes are Abundant and Ready!
The year of 2020 has been unlike any other year in our lives. It is marked by the pandemic of Covid 19 and yet despite the fear of illness and inability to socialize normally with friends, life continued and nature was kind.
It was going to be the year of our first harvest. We planned accordingly. The vines were trained and trimmed to produce the best yield. Frequent checks in the vineyard were done to assure all was growing as expected. This was the first year that the vines reached above the top wires and it was so exciting to see this after witnessing how the vines were drastically pruned during the past few years. Toward the early fall, a host of reflective flags were installed to scare away the birds. Once the grapes are ripening, the birds arrive from out of nowhere. We did all that we could to divert them.
We watched how the new green clusters developed in early summer, filled out in the warm sun and eventually changed from green to purple. This is called veraison. All of us loved to see the tightly packed clusters of fruit hanging in the sun, soaking up all the energy nature emits. The taste of the grapes turned from bitter to sweet as the season progressed. We learned that there is a moment in time when the grapes are ready to be picked. Ken and Mike and our family kept a close watch- measuring the BRIX ( that is the sweetness ), and checking the color of the seeds as the fruit matured. Other indicators were also noted to establish the "right time" to harvest.
On harvest day, in early October, the family was all rallied. The vineyard crew began early before daylight (5:00 a.m.) to cut each and every cluster off the thousands of vines across three and a half acres of vineyard. All this was done by hand. Four workers moved quickly and tirelessly until every last cluster had been collected. They worked for five hours non-stop. An authentic Mexican breakfast was prepared by Elisa and enjoyed by all once the work was done! Pork ribs and tacos in a hot and spicy sauce. It was a celebration of years of toil. A meal well earned and so delicious!
Once the grapes were carted to the winery, Ken had them weighed. Estimates of tonnage were surpassed and we ended up with 1.8 tons of beautiful grapes! The winery accepted them to be crushed and the winemaking began! This all occurred before the heat of harvest day.