Harvest!.... At last! But alas, not for us!
But for the mature vineyards here in Virginia, the time has come. A year's worth of work literally comes to fruition. In Virginia, September and October are the primary months to snip away that luscious fruit from the vine... to capture in a bottle the effects of a year's worth of sun, wind, rain and soil on the vines, whose roots, leaves and fruit have fed all year on that magical combination... every year the expression unique. This variable is what makes a "vintage"... the characteristics that set apart one year from the next, from mediocre to outstanding... My guess is 2009 will be an excellent vintage for Virginia. In spite of the many rain events throughout the season, we had no late spring frosts, we had plentiful sunshine, moderate temperatures, adequate rainfall. If a vineyard was able to keep the fungal spores at bay, it should be a very good year for them. Being in the mid-Atlantic, we always have the possibility of hurricane effects that interfere with harvest. A heavy rainfall event just before harvest will add too much water to the vines, soak the grapes, possibly splitting them, lower the relative sugar content, and generally wreak havoc in the vineyard at just the wrong time. So far, so good this year. For those harvesting this week and early next week, a nice long stretch of mild sunny weather will add that last bit of sugar in the grapes, the sun offering them a last kiss goodbye. How wonderful we get to taste those sun-kissed grapes in years to come as we pour from the bottle the beautiful expression of that year's long and passionate relationship between the grapes and the sun. It's no wonder passion seems to flow from a bottle of wine.
A Very Tiny Harvest...
But better than none at all! We managed to find a few clusters here and there that survived the Battle of the Black Rot! At least we didn't have to worry about scheduling a crew for harvest. The power packed flavor of these pinot noir grapes was amazing...sweet, tart, rich in my mouth. Only a hint of things to come! I can only imagine a vineyard full of such clusters. It will come. And it will be a joyous occasion indeed.
The Beauty of Diversity
Because we are not only a vineyard, but a farm as well, we are at least enjoying the harvest of an assortment of organic fruits and veggies. In addition to my over-flowing rows of ripening heirloom tomatoes (about 25 different varieties with names such as Boxcar Willie, Mortgage Lifter, Black Prince, Amish Paste, Black Cherry), we are enjoying succulent peaches, pears, plums, apples, figs and mounds of summer squash, zucchini, green beans, fresh basil to make pesto, green and hot peppers, and more. The colors, the shapes, the scents and flavors... a grand finale of sorts to satiate not only our stomachs, but our memories of such a beautiful and bountiful abundance to carry us through the long winter to whom it seems we only just said goodbye.
Time So Evident
These cycles of life on the farm accentuate the passing of time. It is not a bad thing, for in so doing, I find myself clutching, but not clinging to each and every season. They all have their merits, their purpose, their own unique beauty. I cherish all the seasons. I welcome them, befriend them, work with and through them, then say goodbye, giving thanks for their presence in my life. It is all good.
Farewell dear summer. You gave me so much.
Come along now, sweet autumn.
Note: Field Trial test results due Mid-September. See you then!