Jim left for New Hampshire on Wednesday morning. He’s off to another chair class.
For the last week, the grapes in the vineyard were busy ripening in the scorching August heat. These are the chambourcin variety.
Every day Jim would go out the vineyard, open up the bird net and pick a few grapes, bring them into the kitchen to test their sugar content with the portable refractometer and then test their pH.
A week ago he was saying he thought they could wait to be picked until he got back from the chair class. On Tuesday morning, he came into my massage room as I was changing the linens and cleansing the room after my first customer of the day, and said, “I have some good news and I have some bad news.”
I knew he had been testing the grapes, so I had an inkling of what his news was, but I bit anyway. “So, what is the good news?”
“Well, the good news is that the grapes are ready to be picked.”
“Ah,” I replied. “And the bad news is that the grapes are ready to be picked and we had better do it today.”
“Boy, you’re quick! I’m going to get started.”
“As soon as I get the linens on the table I will come and help. I can help pick grapes until Debbie gets here for her massage, I’ve got an hour before she’s scheduled. Then after her massage I will get back out here and help you. There is a three hour time slot between her and my next massage, we ought to be able to get them crushed by then, right?”
“That should be no problem. We’d better be able to get it done, because by then I’ll have to get ready for work.” And so that is exactly what we did. This year we picked 120 pounds of grapes off our four rows. We only got 5 pounds off the Marechal foch variety, which was the row which had sprouts 16 inches long and was fully budded out when we had the big freeze last April. the vines did not die, they even put out secondary growth, but the production was severely curtailed. In contrast, the Chambourcin grapes, which had not broken dormancy when the frost came, produced 56 pounds of fruit. And we are still not experiencing full production yet, the vines are very young.
So, here are a couple of pictures for contrast. The first one is the picture of our tiny harvest last year, after we severely pruned back the blossoms to limit berry production, and the birds ate all the grapes on two of the rows.
Now, have a look at what we got this year! Each container has a different variety in it. Boca noir is on the left, Beta in the middle, the Chambourcin on the right. The Marechal foch were in the kitchen in a stainless steel bowl when this picture was taken. Notice that the harvest container in the middle is the same as the one we used last year. I’m thinking that we may need more containers next year.
We ran them all through the stemmer-crusher, and put them into their fermentation container. Jim sterilized the berries and juice, installed the fermentaion lock, and then went off to work at the salt mines (I mean liquor store). He packed for his trip Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday, since we picked grapes during the time he was planning to pack. I pitched the yeast Wednesday evening.
All day yesterday, the dining room and kitchen smelled like a winery, all yeasty, as the fermentation progressed. The must is resting now, waiting for Jim to come home. When he does, we will press it and the must will be transformed to young wine.
The plumber finished cleaning up today. The yard looks as well as can be expected after hosting a trackhoe and a bobcat, and receiving about a hundred feet of trench. There are definite scars and still lots of rocks for me to move. I plan to work on that tomorrow and maybe Sunday. Anyway, the plumber and I parted on cordial terms. I don’t think he lost any money by being forced to do a proper job of filling in the trenches. He is still receiving commentary from the local plumbing supply stores, though, and has yet to come face to face with Mr. C. (He told me he’s been avoiding him. Hard to do in a town this size, especially since they are both working on the same project over at a local factory.) I’ll bet he doesn’t make this particular mistake again!
One of my clients was looking at the shambles in the front yard today. After I explained about having to replace the water line, she mentioned that it is always something when you have a house.
“Yeah,” I replied, laughing wryly. “I had to pay those guys $1900 to destroy my front lawn!”
“It will look a lot better when we have had some rain and the grass recovers from the heat.”
“Yes it will. I’ll have to do some reseeding, and spread straw mulch. It’ll be okay. Every one needs rain BAD!” No disagreement there, the whole area has been sweltering in over 100+ degree heat for a week and a half, there has been no rain for the whole entire month of August. One of my clients is a cattle farmer, she has been worried about her pasture. Yesterday she fretted, “If we don’t get some rain real quick, we’ll have to start feeding hay.” No farmer likes to start using their winter’s supply of hay in August, I can tell you.
That is almost as bad as having your tenant come across the street to ask if the air conditioner over there is under warrantee, since it quit working the other day and the repairman is there to fix it. After paying for the water line, I was not really excited about the idea of replacing an air conditioner in the same week. Fortunately, all it needed was a new condenser. Whew. It felt almost like a miracle.
At 5 p.m. today, a real miracle occurred. The clouds gathered, grew heavy, the lightning flashed and thunder rolled, and rain pounded down onto the parched earth. It rained for an hour; we got .53 inches (1.3cm). As I sit here to write, I hear the thunder rumbling again. The radar showed another band of rain coming from the south, the remnants of tropical depression Erin. I think I hear drops hitting the ground.
I’d better post before Embarq turns off their servers. They hate having open lines during big thunderstorms. Makes me wonder about how good surge protectors are. If a major internet and phone service provider doesn’t trust them, should I?
Oh, and while I was wandering around the yard today praying for rain and moving the sprinkler, I noticed that one of my clematises decided to have a resurgence, and was covered with blossoms.
I take it as a sign that things are returning to their normal positive state at The Havens.
Well, except for the fact that I’m still stuck cooking for myself for two weeks while Jim learns to make a Continuous Arm Windsor chair. Oh well. This too shall pass.
Read Full Post »