Best of the Best: Not a vine, a vineyard
My husband, Richard, and I own a very small second home and two-car garage on a very small, 46 foot x 175 foot lot in southeastern Wisconsin. Purchased in April of 2011, we are shocked this week to discover a vineyard on the property; it’s true. We knew we had a solitary vine, propped up on a short section of picket fence that, we now speculate, was grape-less last fall due to overzealous pruning at the wrong time. But beyond that, our vineyard knowledge extended no further.
Several weeks ago, while home in Madison, I received a text picture from Richard of the vine’s under-side. The message read: “Look what I found.” Given last year’s naked vine, we presumed it was barren; au contraire, it was laden with perfect purple concord grapes. I’m convinced, with such tempting produce, birds would pilfer the crop and leave us with empty skins and foul droppings before the first cluster could be harvested. Surprisingly, the fruit remained untouched by vermin; suddenly, I see visions of Lucy in the half-barrel, stomping away.
On Monday, I set out with pruning snips, gloves and gallon size zip-lock bags to gather the crop. When Richard arrived home Tuesday evening he found me, where he left me Monday night, elbow deep in de-stemming and bagging. Surrounded by bags of grapes on the counter, I encouraged him to open the freezer. “Oh, that’s not all,” I dared, “check out the frig.” The vine yielded 50 pounds of fruit!
Richard began to understand the magnitude of my days and offered to help make room in the freezer. Apparently, he noticed the bags on the bottom shelf of the frig but failed to see the bulging bags on shelves one and two. I can’t repeat what he said but I offered him a reassuring glass of red wine. Not being wine drinkers, per se, the offer took him by surprise. Call it: training the palate, I see connoisseurs in our future.
After talking with Dave at The Cellar, a wine and beer making supply shop, I returned home with $71 worth of inventory and the following knowledge: freezing grapes before crushing produces more juice and 50 pounds of grapes yields five gallons of wine. What I discovered is this: it only takes one vine to make a vineyard and one vineyard to make a winery.
Best of the Best
Madison Gardens, Rick Crown and Richard A. Simpson, 706-342-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact them for all gardening needs: plants, planting, pruning, fertilizing, pest control, flower arranging and more. I will check with them about when to
prune the vineyard.
www.thecellarhomebrew.com, for your entire home winemaking needs.
www.winemaking.jackkeller.net, go to "Requested Recipes," scroll down, and you’ll find Scuppernong, Muscadine and Concord grape wine recipes as well as dozens of others. This is a very informative site.
www.tv.com, "I Love Lucy," Episode: "Lucy’s Italian Movie"
iWineMaker, iPhone App that helps with winemaking calculations
When making your own wine, ask a local restaurant to save empty corked bottles for your bottling.
Printed in the September 27, 2012 edition