This past week, Al and I spent nearly every waking moment in the vineyard. Somehow it is late August, and that means the grapes are adding on sugar and the birds all know it. We have a telephone wire that runs the length of the vineyard, and at this time of year I swear I can hear the birds on that wire taunting us. "Are they ripe yet? Let me check. Oh, not yet, but I'll take some and drop them on the ground anyway. And then I will test them again tomorrow. If they are ready tomorrow, I'll be sure to call all my little bird friends!" I used to really like birds. Now, not so much. If we did not net the vineyard, they would pick it clean before we could even say the word harvest. And so we net.
Before we can apply the nets, the vineyard needs to be hedged and all of the prunings that come off must be cleared from the vineyard floor. This is a job that takes two of us two solid days. After hedging, the aisles must be mowed, because once the nets go on, you can no longer get a tractor down the row. Once it is mowed, we apply the nets. This job takes four of us a full day. The nets are seventeen feet wide and a quarter mile long. We have a nifty contraption called a Netter Getter that attaches to the back of the tractor and runs the net along the tops of the rows. One person drives, one feeds netting out of the basket, and two walk along and pull the netting down to the ground. In all, we put on about five miles of netting. By the end of the day, I am exhausted. And the birds are mad.
And now our attention turns to harvest, which will start in just a couple of weeks. Brianna comes off first, this year on Labor Day weekend. Then we wait a few weeks and tackle the Frontenac and the Frontenac Gris. We harvest by hand with volunteers, and if you've never done it, the grape harvest is actually very fun. You can sign up to help us by calling the winery for all of the details. If you're a River Bend wine enthusiast, it's a great way to see how your favorite wine goes from the grape to the glass. We'd love to have you join us!
Until next time...Cheers!