Thursday, October 20, 2011

After the Harvest!

We have finished our very first year of grape harvest. 

Time will tell whether we even have a clue about what we are doing.  We presently have just under 200 litres of juice fermenting in tanks and a carboy, I imagine we'll finish with just over 150 litres of 2 reds and a white wine. 

What we were forewarned would be a lot of work, was.  But there's something about the vineyard that just resonates with me. 

Other than our rather unsuccessful first year of planting around 1000 sticks which were supposed to root and did not, any work we've put into it has reaped great benifit.  I am not referring to the quantity of wine (or perhaps really good vinegar?!?!) which we might end up with a year from now when all our juice is properly fermented, racked, oaked, aged and bottled  -or is that bottled then aged? (note to self:  read more) but rather the pleasure the time spent in the vineyard really brings. 

As most of you already know Scott, my husband is a dairy farmer and helps to manage a pretty big operation which is situated across the road from our home making him the go to guy at all hours of the day and night.  Any farmer knows that livestock consumes ALOT of time, but being part of a farm with lots of help enables Scott to take one day off a week, a luxury that is not common in the industry.  The drawback, for us is that we're programmed to be busy, rise early and work hard.  For me I might chalk it up to adult attention deficit, for Scott, he has a really fidgety wife that he tries to please and he just cannot sleep very late. (sorry, honey!)  Regardless, the decision to plant a vineyard has provided time together that has escaped us in the chaos of building a barn and business, raising babies and juggling these with other commitments. 

In the early days of our marriage we renovated our home which demanded a ton of time, lots of decision making and learning how to work together.  In recent years we've lost that time or at least when we are together there is always someone else present or underfoot.  The vines have given me back time with Scott, sometimes chatting incessantly about whatever burdens we're carrying but more often than not silently working side by side building a future together again.  A little bit of time we just haven't taken the time for that I obviously craved more than I realized. 

We also have lots of curious neighbours stopping by while we're out, sometimes to lend a hand, sometimes just to chat.  All this reminds us that we're part of a larger community that yes, sees every mistake we make along the way but still acts as encouragment to us by their presence and support in this and all we do.
Finally, I spent quite a few solo days out there, pruning and tying the vines and mowing the grass in between (not my favourite job, I'd rather listen to the world around me...not the hum of a mower!) and in this time is when I get reaquainted with the person I am.  When I listen.  Yes, to the birds, the wind, insects, the occassional rumble of a group of Harleys passing on the highway below but what I really listen to is something or someone that I cannot really hear but I just feel and through this everything is once again balanced in my life.  I remember that I am blessed. 

A pretty tall order for a bunch of unruly vines, but they nourish and fill me in ways I simply cannot put into words.

For now the vineyard remains unnamed, there is no rush in this. I am sure it will be years before a hard and fast decision needs to be made.  Some favourites we've dreamed up are Little Red Wagon Winery (as that's our biggest tool!)  Day Off Vineyard,  Spring Notes...and on and on our ideas flow.  We're really undecided but it might have something to do with our land...springy, our birds...a practical sanctuary, (except when a hawk conveniently chased them away just as the grapes were ripening) or our valley home or even our family name...we do not know.

What we do know is we're done the harvest for this year and look forward to seeing if the vines survive their second winter.  We will be planting more in the spring and playing with and tasting the big vats of stuff that now occupy a bunch of space in our garage. 

Time together, learning, laughing, trying something new and moving forward.  All is well.


white grapes

some of the red grapes

The skeptical pre-teen that was NOT captivated by the process :)

Enthusiastic grape crushers...we opted for new rubber boots rather than bare feet!

and the littlest thinking we are all plain crazy!

Some of the red ready for primary fermentation. 

So that's where I've been, but promise to be back sooner next time...I have an art show that begins on November 7th, that is now what I'm up to...I will post details soon!  Cheers! Jen