Grapes!

Grapes, ready for harvest
Grapes, ready for harvest

Today we harvested our Muscadine grapes that grow here on our farm. When I moved to the farm in 1980, the grape vines were already here and were already very old. Over time they were neglected and nearly died off but a few years ago we rehabilitated the vines, built new trellises and began a multi-year process of bringing them back into production. This year was our first payoff year and today we harvested our 2014 grape harvest.

Eating grapes
What’s the most important part of picking grapes? Eating them!

We had lots of help with our grapes. All three kids, SWMBO, Dustin, and Justin were all on hand to pick grapes. A goodly portion went to pay the help but we still managed to harvest a heavy load.

Wildflower and The Princess, picking grapes
Wildflower and The Princess, picking grapes
Spork had his own way of getting to the grapes.
Spork had his own way of getting to the grapes.
Dad did his share of picking.
Dad did his share of picking.
Spork and our haul of grapes. At least what was left after everyone snacked.
Spork and our haul of grapes. At least what was left after everyone snacked. We had about 3 bushels, not counting the scuppernong grapes we also picked.
Apple press, being used as a grape press.
Apple press, being used as a grape press.

Remember the apple press? We realized that with this many grapes, we needed a larger press to handle the volume. The apple press we had restored was made for volume so we pressed it into service as a grape press.

The girls working the press.
The girls working the press.
We all got a workout on the press, Justin maybe most of all.
We all got a workout on the press, Justin maybe most of all.

It took three of us to work the press most of the day. But then we had the idea of tie the press to the gator, so that it was anchored securely and we could concentrate on just cranking the press down. Worked like a champ and we made good progress after our rope work.

Of course, the kids continued to help.
Of course, the kids continued to help.
Everyone had their fill of grapes today.
Everyone had their fill of grapes today.

The final result? Four gallons of grape juice, plus 10 gallons of hulls in the two fermenters starting to percolate away. And some sticky, happy children.

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