The majority of the River Bend vineyard is planted to the grapes Frontenac and Frontenac Gris. Because Frontenac Gris is actually a field mutation of Frontenac, the two varieties tend to ripen at the same rate. We have historically picked our Frontenac Gris first and our Frontenac last. By mid-September, we begin to worry about frost, and getting both varieties off the the vine by the end of the month is our goal. As expected, when we tested the fruit this past week, both varieties were ready and our plan to pick the Front Gris first and the Frontenac one week later was confirmed.
On Wednesday, we looked at the long range weather forecast and the size of our picking crews for each weekend, and I panicked just a little. We had 45 people coming to pick Frontenac Gris on Saturday and only half that many for Frontenac the next weekend. The long range forecast was dismal. So we decided to pick the Gris as planned, and some of the Frontenac on the same day. With a large picking crew, we knew the volume was manageable. But two things concerned me. First, it meant getting much more of the vineyard ready for picking, knowing we would be working non-stop in the rain. And second, the two varieties have a similar skin color, but Front Gris presses white and Frontenac presses rose’. Mixing the two in the picking bins would be disastrous. We have never picked these two varieties together for this reason, but this year we had no choice.
But as they tend to do, things worked out just fine. We do not melt in the rain, by Friday the nets were off, the vineyard floor was mowed, and the bins and buckets were in place by Saturday morning. Picking day dawned cold but beautifully sunny. Our fabulous crew of harvesters took my worries of “cross contamination” in the bins seriously, and the white wine producing Front Gris was not mixed with the rose’ producing Frontenac. All of the grapes were off the vine before eleven am, just in time to have a champagne toast in the field before heading in for a well-deserved lunch on the patio. With only one more weekend to go, I now believe we will survive another harvest season. To all of our volunteers, THANK YOU for a great day of friendship and harvest. The community that comes together every year to get our fruit off the vine is amazing, and we are extremely grateful.
To our volunteers, we raise our glass... Cheers to all of you!