Friday, October 22, 2010

This is our season for grape gleaning

Our neighbor at CG DiArie Winery makes fine wine, much of it based on Zinfandel grapes. He's very selective, which means they leave a fair number of grapes on the vine after harvest. (Barb says you really ought to try their wines.)

Last year we asked if we could glean amongst the leftovers, which they happily let us do. We made grape juice from about 20 gallons of picked grapes, and it was so good we're being somewhat more ambitious this season. 

For a boy who grew up picking berries in Alaska (and trying to get out of it), picking grapes seems astonishingly bountiful. Your bucket is full before you know. There's more work after we get them home, of course, to carefully render juice and can it safely. But the juice lasts all year and is always a reminder of the fall harvest.

One issue when picking: you have to keep the help from eating too many at the site. These are Primitivo grapes, the father of all Zinfandel grapes. They're known as a "sun kissed" varietal and like the hot, sunny summers here in the Sierra foothills.

And yes, they're very good (though seedy) eaten out of hand.

(The painting above is The Gleaners, by Jean-Fran├žois Millet, 1857

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