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Grape Picking Time

 

What better to do on a bright, perfect fall day in New England than pick some wine grapes?  Seemed like the thing to do to me, so when we got the email from Saltwater Farm in Stonington, CT, I decided to take a half day of vacation time from work and do something I’ve wanted to do or a long time – participate in the fall harvest and pick some grapes!

Saltwater Farm is in Stonington, CT, and they have a unique and beautiful piece of property, growing six varieties of grapes.  It’s kind of surrounded by salt marshes and estuaries and very close to the ocean.  The tasting room is inside an old, renovated airplane hangar which is really stunning.  The wines are good, and that will depend on personal taste as it always does.  I think their Merlot is excellent and it really surprised me.  We bought some of that a few months ago when we visited for a tasting.

If you don’t believe this is a beautiful piece of land look at this picture from their website.

Saltwater Farm Vineyard – from website www.saltwaterfarmvineyard.com

It makes sense to me why the two other times we’ve tried to stop in they were closed with functions. The place is a natural for weddings and other events.

I took the picture below.

Looking back at the winery through the vineyard.

The early frosts of this week forced the need to get the reds off the vines, so the vineyard put out a call for volunteers.  The weather was perfect, and I enjoyed the experience very much.  You pick in teams, one on both sides of the vine row.  I was paired with a fascinating gentleman that had taught himself ten languages and had read more classical historical literature than possibly any other person anywhere.  I learned an immense amount during our four hour conversation.  I also learned how to pick grapes – that only took a minute or two.

The Merlot we picked was sparse, but the grapes were amazingly sweet.  I hope they got enough to warrant a crush and a small batch.

Merlot grapes ready for harvest

The Cabernet Franc was much more mature and the yields were good.  These were no where as sweet as the Merlot, I’m thinking this will be a leaner style (but of course I’m no winemaker).

Cabernet Franc on the vines – but not for long!

Everyone at the winery was great – they were just opening the pizza for lunch when I had to leave.  If you haven;t been there you should stop in if you’re in the area – it’s worth the trip.

I may have to do this every year.  If you’ve ever seen the movie in the French Pavilion at Epcot Center, there is a scene where they are in the vineyards picking and the tractor drives by pulling a full trailer of grapes.  The driver has a grape leaf wreath on his head.  This morning when the tractor pulled by with a full load of grapes I was tempted to make a grape leaf wreath on the spot and wear it for the rest of the day.

I’ll definitely have to stop in and get a bottle of the 2012 Cabernet Franc or (hopefully) Merlot when they are released, knowing I had the tiniest of parts in getting it from vine to bottle.

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