Sunday, September 20, 2009

Winemaking: First you have to pick them...

What a terrific day this has been! Good friends, good fun, great huge amounts of help!!

So today started with neighbors Angie and Mick and lovely daughter (on vacation!) Katie, arriving bright and ready with secateurs in hand. Tony and Barbara soon followed and we all made our way down to the vines.

There was a bit of comedy when we all threw ourselves into the process of removing the nets that covered the vines...fortunately we managed to get them off and not become too entangled in the 'olive nets turned grape defenders' (tho I may end up getting pretty tangled up tomorrow when I try and fold them back up again!!)

Then the hard work of cutting the ripe grapes began. For some reason we were blessed with not so many ripe grapes but a great many "almost ripe" grapes with the odd green grape at different parts of the cluster.

My knowledgeable friend (and home winemaker) Sammy arrived just in time as having picked most of the ripe grapes we need a bit of guidance for the rest and it was left to her to decide which bunches and clusters should be added to the baskets.

In the end we managed to fill up 8 crates and then loaded them into the trailer (which I'd handily brought down- with the car- near the vines, shortly before everyone arrived!)

Then we trundled them all up to the front yard near to where they'd be ultimately crushed (front porch). At that point it was time for a tea break and we all enjoyed our 'cuppa' - some of us with a piece of banana raisin cake- and some not (I am sorry I only had time to bake the one cake this morning, I really had high hopes to finish up an apple one as well -as they are very simple to make- but sadly, I just ran out of morning!)

Diana arrived and we moved to the front yard with chairs and end tables to prop the baskets on as we now were in phase two, or removing the grapes from the stems. The time passed merrily and much quicker than expected with all the great stories shared amongst us. [Of particular interest, to whom it may concern, was a book by Tania Aebi called Maiden Voyage. It sounded like a "keeper" to all of us. (Thank you, Tony...)]

Sadly for us, Angie, Katie and Mick had to go and honor their commitments- 80 year old parent coming for a Sunday lunch... we were glad for all their wonderful help. I am sure the wine will reflect their good will! We were then blessed with the "changing of the neighborhood guard" as Alan and Lynn arrived to take their places!

At that point it seemed we realised it was lunch time! As Sammy, in order to make it on time for the grape picking had skipped breakfast, she was starting to become a bit "wobbly". So in order not to lose our "chief of wine making knowledge", it seemed like a good time to break out the vegetable beef soup I'd prepared this morning before everyone came. I made a large vat and boy am I glad I did! It went over very well and I have about one good bowlful left for dinner!


ON another note: we also had a visitor (Dear Andrew) appear who did not participate in the grape picking or squishing as he is someone we found through the message board at the British Store, who is a dab hand with satellite television and something called a DreamBox. He was quite a pleasant young man and answered all my questions correctly! Luckily he turned up as most of our winemaking crew were VERY interested in his dreambox and would like to see it working. So he set it up, but will return later this week with the additional boosters for the wireless connection as it also needs to connect to the adsl line to function (and my dsl line is too far away from the television- sigh, it's always something.) He was quite charming and left everything connected on "spec" so we can see if we want to buy it or not! (So I fed him lunch too).


Finally the grapes were all sorted and plucked free of the stem bits. Now it was time for the great squishing.

On with the wino pink jelly wellies! First I took my turn, and carefully squished into the big blue tub of grapes. Thankful that we had managed to cleverly have JUST exactly the right amount of grapes to NOT go into the tops of my wellies as I carefully stomped away.

At the point wherein it suddenly stopped being a strange effort to not leave the wellies IN the tub with the grapes, but became more liquid and easier to move the feet up and down, Lynn expressed a enormous curiosity to try it out. With many many grapes left to stomp to bits, I gracefully ceded my spot in the tub (feeling a bit like Tom Sawyer turning the picket fence over to the onlookers!)

Fortunately Tony pulled my wellies off from my feet, as even with socks I managed to be stuck in them! Lynne put them on and happily stomped away. Sammy assisted her by telling her which grapes to step on!

So finally the grapes were picked AND squished! Victory for today!

Tomorrow I must take a jar of the juice into Andreas (my wine god), who will judge how much (if any!) sugar will be needed to add to the grape juice and also how many camden tablets (for the potential mold etc) will be needed. For now the grape juice is content to sit in the blue tub and rest covered by netting so that wasps and other curious bugs can't find their way in, while at the same time letting me get into it to stir three times a day!

We measured how much juice was officially squished! (well Sammy measured, with a 2 liter pitcher except she filled it with bit more so we scientifically could figure each pitcher was about 2.3 liters, and she poured 17 of them to fill the other blue tub to the exact same level as the squished grapes.)

Grand total is 39 liters of grape juice and grape sludge! YAY us!

Everyone helped with the clean up and we were all finished around 4:30 in the afternoon. All in all a really great day! And I think we only had one wasp bite for all the picking and plucking! (sorry Mick!)

The story will continue, as Wednesday (probably around lunch time) we'll have to put it through the wine press for phase two!

Stay tuned...

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. What a truly enjoyable day it must have been. It's lovely when you can get so many people involved in something like this. Looking forward to hearing the next instalment!

  2. Dear Ayak,
    It was really fun! Everyone kept remarking that this was the sort of thing you'd read about or watch on a television program! They've all decided to plant grapes as well in order to duplicate the experience... [meaning we'll have to pluck grapes for all the neighbors in the coming years! :0 ]

    I will keep everyone up on each phase...

  3. That looks like fun!! My favourite part would be the squishing with toes!!! Is Greek wine any good?

    Great blog - glad to have found it through Miss Footloose! Keep it up. Your newest follower.

    Holli in Ghana

  4. Greetings and sorry to reply so late dear Holli in Ghana! Welcome to my world (and yours is pretty fascinating too!! What an amazing life you lead!)

    The bare foot squishing was sort of backed away from by me, as I was pretty concerned about the vast numbers of wasps and hornets who seem to be around our sweet grapes and their juice...

    I was quite happy to buy a pair of "dedicated grape-stomper" AKA my wino-pink-jelly-wellies to the cause!

    Besides I will tell you, that you could still feel the grapes and pits squish even through the wellies! It was A VERY odd sensation!

    Thank you for following and I hope you continue to enjoy the posts!



Related Posts with Thumbnails