PICKING GRAPES: A MINI-HARVEST TO KICK OFF THE SEASON

SIX OF US GATHERED AS THE SUN WAS JUST BEGINNING TO WARM THE HORIZON. With words still fuzzy from sleep, we organized ourselves and collected buckets and shears, shuffling around and coming to life. We piled like puppies into the car and bumped up the mountain toward a patch of land bearing 301 grape vines. We arrived just in time to watch the sun break day.
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We took a moment to admire the way the grapes and the vines and their leaves glowed in the morning light. And then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
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The old folks in Secastilla said we were crazy to bring in the grapes so early, but Gorge–who will be making wine with this particular batch–is trying something new. A modern technique that involves an early harvest. So with gentle hands we snipped robust bunches of Garnacha (called Grenache outside of Spain), checked for mold and filled our buckets.
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Aviary Photo_130873183944403260Garnacha grapes are believed to have originated in Aragon, right where we were working. Although it used to be considered a sort of “workhorse” varietal best-suited for blending with other grapes, it is now one of the most widely-planted red wine varieties. We plucked the fruit off the vine as we worked, and they burst with syrupy sweetness. In your glass, however, Garnacha is a totally different experience. It’s usually a gutsy, medium-bodied wine with raspberry or strawberry flavors and a hint of cinnamon or pepper.
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Our bounty grew and grew. We carried “cubos”–which are the flexible rubber buckets used to collect the grapes–back and forth to bigger buckets and the trailer. At about 10 o’clock we stopped for beers (when in Spain) and shared a sandwich, and when we got thirsty, we stopped to squirt wine from the leather “bota” into our mouths. To complete the circle, if you will.
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When the vines were bare and the trailer was overflowing, we headed to Gorge’s house for the traditional post-harvest meal. After processing the grapes through a machine that separated the fruit from the stem, we circled around a dining table on the terrace and dove into a smorgasbord of food and wine.
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This isn’t a sterile, highly professional operation we’re running here. There is no pristine tasting room or glossy shelf of wine awards. We’re doing it the old, simple way: friends gathering to help because the process of making wine is romantic. Because entangling yourself in the vines with the sun on your back is pleasing. Because sipping the final product evokes memories of singing and hollering in the vineyard, purple stains on your shirt collar and the shared joy of getting the job done. And because one sniff from the top of your glass can reel you right back to where it all began.
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3 Comments

  1. Becky
    October 20, 2015
    Reply

    I love all your entries. What a wonderful adventure. Your words make be both feel as though I am there and wish I really were there! 🙂

    • admin
      October 21, 2015
      Reply

      Well if your mom doesn’t love your work, who will? Thanks for your encouragement. I daydream about having you here to visit all the time; it’s going to be so fun!

  2. Fremerina
    May 2, 2016
    Reply

    I Googled “Secastilla Fremmy” and this is what came up. 😉

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