By Caroline Clemmons
When Hero and I lived in rural Parker County, Texas, we went on a tour which included a couple of vineyards and a small winery. We laugh about this because an earnest young man gave an interesting short lecture on how grapes are gathered and processed for wine. A woman on the tour repeatedly interrupted him with, “When do you wash the grapes?”
He must have been told that in the case of heckling he should continue with his presentation. Poor man tried to carry on, but she persisted with the same question. “When do you wash the grapes?” With a pained expression on his face, he finally explained that the grapes are never washed because the “bloom” on the skin is a natural part of the wine-making process. She appeared horrified.
Around the same time, our friends bought a small acreage near us and planted a vineyard. They were from Germany and had raised grapes there. Not as their occupation, but as a second income source.
Hero and I were not involved in planting the vineyard (thank goodness). One year, we joined another couple and helped with the harvest. We hurried to get as many grapes cut and put into containers as we could manage.
Actually, we had a nice day while we worked—with plenty of chatting and laughter. At an arranged time, a truck arrived to haul the grapes to a winery. Then the six adults and several teens went to a local restaurant for an early supper.
This was Hero’s and my first experience harvesting grapes commercially. I don’t know whether or not we were any good at the job. Our friends certainly didn’t criticize us—after all, we were free labor.
Have you been to a winery or vineyard? If so, share your experience in the comments.