Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Yesterday we decided it was time to harvest the Marquette grapes.  Having just reached the right brix and ph levels, and the fact that the bird call has about expired its time in effectively fooling the birds, we figured now was the time before they start nibbling on the grapes even more!  The Frontenac Gris, however, are still looking good and not quite ready for harvest.  Those will be next week. 

One of my big selling points to Aaron in moving over to the west side of town (versus the east side of St. Paul) was the fact that my entire family lives out this direction. 

"We'll have lots of helpers for the vineyard!  My parents, sisters, my 13 nieces and nephews...they'll help all the time!"  I convinced him nearly three years ago.

Aaron reminded me that this coming weekend, his whole family was driving in from Wisconsin for a "work weekend."  What can I say, they are a farm family and hard labor is in their blood.  My family is good at a lot of things, but hard labor is not a defining characteristic of the Hageman clan.  So I took his subtle reminder as a hint to round up some of that family help I had promised for our harvest this year.

Actually, I think he said,  "Hey Babe, when is your family that lives 10 minutes away going to come help?"

Hint taken. 

The best part was, it was pretty easy to get some helpers.  Turns out, all I have to do is ask and they were happy to help. 

So I got my nephew Jackson, weeks before he heads off to his first year of college. 

Belle was such a great help too!

Mom.  Mom!  Over here! 

She's a multitasking lady...selling houses while picking grapes. 

That's better. 

And my beautiful niece, Emma.

Who for her 11th birthday, had just gotten her ears pierced, so I had her show them off.  Can you see?

Dad in his harvesting hat with the help of Tux.

He looks like a natural, doesn't he?

And my sister, Jennifer, even made it out to help for a while.  See, I did pretty well! 

Who's THAT hunk of a man in charge?  Woo!  Hubba, Hubba!  I'd like to have HIS baby. 

Oh, wait.  I am!  Or at least the headless pregnant lady he took a picture of is...

And just one week from Wednesday, we'll find out if Schrambino will be a little Aaron replica, or a vineyard princess.  All we know now, is that at just 19 weeks, we have one active baby in there.  Even Aaron got to feel some kicks just tonight!

And after harvest we had to crush the grapes right away.

First we weighed all the lugs.  We got about 240 lbs of Marquette grapes from about 40 vines.

Our neighbors, Don and Phyllis, stopped over to see what all the workers were up to and ended up joining in the fun.

Little did they know they were signing themselves up for the tedious job of sorting through grapes and picking off all the bad ones that appeared to have critter damage before they could go in the crusher/de-stemmer.  Only the best grapes can go in to make wine! 

Once we were done with that fun projects, the grapes were ready to go in crusher/de-stemmer.

Jackson dumped them in. 

And it went to work.

It crushes all the grapes and the juice drips out into that white bucket in the back, while the stems are spit out into a wagon on the side.  Pretty sweet little system, huh?

Don't worry.  We still will do a grape stomp the old fashioned way.  With our feet!  Maybe not this year, but hopefully for our biggest harvest yet...next year! 

And since I know you are all dying to know the results from the County Fair...

My strawberry jam got second place.  And I even got docked a point because I forgot to include my processing information with my entry.  Had I included that, I think I could have gotten first!

If you recall, Staci and I both entered a jar of zucchini relish from the same batch that we made together.  Hers got first place and mine got second.  And hers went on to win the Purple Ribbon Grand Champion of all relishes and sauces!  Wahoo!  So I guess it is pretty good.   I better taste it! 

Sadly, my giant zucchini didn't place, despite the fact some said mine looked almost bigger than two of the finalists.  I had high hopes, but it just gives me the itch to try again next year.