Friday, December 10, 2010

Witness to Oregon Grape Harvest

I have come to realize that we live in a true "garden of eden" here in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This became clear on my first witness to a wine grape harvest.  Luck (and the gods?) brought a clear, cold sunny day on the first day of grape collecting at a local vineyard. Despite having to get up early on my one day off, I became giddy with excitement as I climbed to the top of the hill and saw the crates of grapes piled high. Workers hand picking, quickly and efficiently. Bucket after bucket of grapes tumbling into the grape bins. Leaves and defective clusters quickly removed, once full away the grapes would go to the winery for processing. 

In rows, the clusters all present at one level, maybe 3.5 feet from the ground. The vines pruned with deliberation the year before to create a somewhat organized presentation of fruit. I tasted several grapes right from the vine and pondered how the high quality wine from this vineyard begins right here with this simple fruit. But of course it is not simple and it did not "begin" with this grape. Much thought and organization went into the growth of this plant.

Silly as this may sound, I did not even realize that the grapes were hand picked! But this 60 acre or so vineyard, and many others, are dependent on the hands of many agricultural workers.  The number of workers you can amass determines how fast you can bring in the harvest.

I have always enjoyed wine, but now now I see and taste a work of art created by many hands and minds.

Did I say I love Oregon? Did I say I love Salem?

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