This past Sunday I was brave enough to take on the task of harvesting grapes for Norman Hardie in Prince Edward County. My husband and I helped with the harvest of 2007 and were so sore we couldn’t move for 4 days. Why, you may ask, did I do it again? Well, because it’s fun, and Norm feeds us really well.
The day was overcast and a bit misty in the early morning. The grapes were still quite wet from the rains overnight so Norm had us tie up the nets on the vines in preparation for the winter. By 10:30 in the morning I had a few blisters on my hands.
By late afternoon, the mist had stopped, the grapes were dry, and we were finally able to start picking. Considering the questionnable weather this summer, I was pleasantly surprised by how healthy the grapes were! There was no rot. I remember in the 2007 harvest, we had to cut out bits of rot and mould from some of the bunches as we picked. There was none of that this year. Norm did say that the County had not received the rain that the rest of the province experienced. It showed in the healthy, ripe fruit.
We picked until about 2:30 when lunch was served and by this time my back and legs were aching from all the bending and crouching. Did I mention that the grapes in Prince Edward County are grown just above ground level? Growing the grapes so low to the ground makes it easier to bury the fruiting wood in the winter in order to protect it from the extreme cold.
Containers full of harvested Pinot Noir were taken back to the winery by a tractor and the grapes were put into the crusher/destemmer.
What a feast lunch was! We had wine, fresh oysters, wine, roast pig, numerous different salads, and wine. It was all very delicious.
Will I do it again next year? Probably.