Reub's journey

30 October 2011

Grapes, work, and wine

Yesterday John and I drove to Amity, Oregon, to help a friend harvest grapes.

 This event was supposed to happen today, Sunday, but the weather caused the schedule to be moved up a day. Yesterday it didn't rain (good for grape harvest) whereas today it's been a steady drizzle. Even so, as you see from this spider web, it wasn't exactly as dry as a bone yesterday.

You have to wear gloves to protect your hands from wasps, and in my case, from myself. I was kind of a clumsy snipper, and cut my gloves twice...but not all the way through.

Unfortunately, the schedule change meant that a lot of helpers couldn't make it, so we definitely had our work cut out for us.

 John worked on one side of the row while I took the other. These grapes will go into making pinot noir wine, a specialty of this region, and very popular ever since the film Sideways.

 It was fun!

 It was especially glorious after the sun finally came out.

I like the way the trees reflect on the panels. I think the energy will help run the irrigation system.
You have to have at least a little sun in order for solar panels to make sense.

 The grapes were collected and put into bins, then driven about 10 miles away to Brooks winery.

John and I took some breaks with Ed and Reub.

The best break, though, was the one that included a glass of pinot noir and some homemade goat cheese.

After five hours of harvesting grapes, this felt pretty good. We had cut about 4,000 pounds of grapes, and my back was talking to me. Plus, it was fun to have a friendly black cat claiming my lap.

OK, his name was Tom, and he gave me many photo ops.

I could get off-the-subject easily here, because it was fun to photograph every part of him.

And he didn't mind it a bit.

While stroking Tom, there was a mesmerizing sunset to watch: hilltop vineyards are spectacular for observing the landscape.

However, the day was far from done. About 300 pounds of grapes were kept for private use, and they had to be crushed. This cool machine separated the grapes from the stalks.

Ed and Reub loved this. They gleaned a few grapes from the stems, although not enough to give them tummy aches (grapes are a dietary no-no for dogs.)

And then came the grape-crushing! This involved two willing volunteers, and was a lot of fun for everybody. If we sound silly, it's because none of us had ever done this before, and also we each had a glass of wine in hand.

After all of the work was done, we were treated to a lamb tagine dinner, and a beautiful moon. Cool day.

Thank you to Hilary from The Smitten Image, who honored this post with an award.


  1. Great profile of the black cat. Are your dogs cat-friendly? Back to the Earth is always a fulfilling way to pass a day. Especially with the promise of such tangible (drinkable) results.

  2. We can't trust Reub around cats, although he did learn to share his life with a cat for a few years when we first got him (the cat has since departed). Eddy will bounce after a cat, if it runs, but is no real threat. To prevent any problems we kept the dogs in the car most of the time yesterday. No sense in frightening Tom.

  3. Fantastic! 4,000 pounds of grapes? Holy cow, no wonder you had to put your feet up!

    The grape crushing vid of course makes me think of I Love Lucy.

    Great singing btw. And I've loved pinot noir since long before the film. I still love Merlot. I don't care what they said about it in the movie!

  4. Omigosh Reya, I hadn't even thought about that I Love Lucy episode, so I just had to go and re-watch it. There's a video on youtube that includes Lucy explaining (in 1974) the behind-the-scenes story on that episode; I was a bit shocked by it! And now I really feel the need to watch the chocolate factory, and wasn't there a Thanksgiving turkey one?

    Oh, and that is my husband John belting out the "Italian" song on my video. You must visit us.

  5. Love that shot of the spider web,awesome!

  6. Great post, Kerry, but all I can think of is that magnificent sunset!


  7. Oh you had me at "wine" in your title but you kept me with your fabulous photo-journaling of your day. What a terrific post all around. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day. And yes, I immediately thought of the Lucy episode too.

  8. A great outdoors, even if it breaks your back, is fun. What with free food and drink and maybe a bottle or two of the finished product? it's all worth it.

    I just scrolled down to the artwork, awesome work!

  9. Great pictures: looks exhausting although fun.

  10. Jama: Thank you!

    Jo: The sunset was SO cool... If I hadn't had a sore back and taken the time to sit back, I might have missed it.

    Hilary: Thank you! Your own photography is an inspiration to me. Outstanding.

    Friko, thanks. The wine was wonderful, and when this new batch is drinkable I'm sure they will share a bottle.

    Laoch: I got a few achey muscles from this, but mostly it was just fun. And lovely.

  11. Two tons of grapes sounds like an awful lot. WOW! I'm sure the wine helped you crush the grapes. :))

  12. what a fun day and that spider web is just gorgeous!

  13. congrats on your post of the week on this!

  14. Visiting from Hilary's. Congrats on your POTW!. This is a great post and gives a lot of insight into the individual side of wine making. I didn't know anyone really crushed grapes like that anymore. We had the opportunity to see some of the process in action at a small winery in Virginia about a month ago.

    The pics of the cat were great too. They are a comfort after a long day.


  15. Wow... that spider web photo is just spectacular.

    I feel similarly about brewing, though it's not quite so outdoors-y. Just a real satisfying way to spend the day.

    Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your potw.

  16. Such incredible photographs, Kerry, a beautiful piece of writing and photography.

    You really captured the mood of the ´event´.


  17. How fun! I'm becoming quite obsessed with a variety of drinkable projects such as this one, myself. Looks like quite a fulfilling day :)


  18. EG Wow: Turns out it was actually 2.4 tons of grapes, plus the 300 lbs for private crushing. That's a lot of grapes, yeah.

    Ellen: Aren't spider webs absolutely gorgeous? They would look good in one of your glass projects.

    twg: Thanks!

    Linda: I'm not sure that many people actually do this kind of processing anymore, I mean by foot. The girls had to kind of sterilize their feet beforehand. Is that what the Romans used to do?

    Cricket; My 2 sons are into brewing beer. It's a big thing in this part of Oregon, and is quite a satisfying endeavor. And also congrats on your own potw; it was an awesome piece of writing. Should be submitted somewhere, on paper.

    Saul: You should come back. You could study wine-making at OSU. Bet you'd be good at it.

    Hey Meagan: I still have the kombucha culture in the fridge...what a slacker I am...wonder how long it lasts?

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  20. I was looking at this post again. These really are wonderful photos. Well done.

  21. Laoch and Kas: Thanks. I'm always a bit surprised if photos come out well. I think it's mostly having an awesome subject, like this cat, or the sunset. The camera is just a regular point-and-shoot, which I am learning to adjust manually sometimes.


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