>Different ways of picking grapes


Depending on the terrain of the vineyard and the quality of wine which will be made from the grapes, there are different ways of harvesting. In a large, flat vineyard where the grapes are intended for ordinary quality wine, to be taken to the cave cooperative to be added to grapes from many other vineyards in the area, grape-picking machines are used to save time and labour. They look huge when you meet them on the road, as we often do at this time of the year because they travel from one vineyard to another during the vendange, towering above the cars. They look big among the vines too, because they have to straddle a row of vines to remove the grapes. In small parcelles of vines, especially on hillsides, it would be impossible to get a machine in among the rows, so these grapes are usually picked by hand, as are any grapes that will be used to make high-quality wine because this minimises the damage to the grapes before pressing.

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We saw this machine near Fouzilhon the other morning as it was just about to start working its way through the vineyard.

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DSC05813 Yesterday we helped friends pick grapes by hand – a hard morning’s work, but good fun, as a group of us worked our way up and down the rows chatting in French and Occitan. For the first time this year they are making a high-quality wine and we picked the Syrah grapes for it from a vineyard in a beautiful position on a hilltop with a view all the way to the sea. Next week we’ll help pick the Grenache grapes which are not ripe yet.

Grape jelly – an experiment

We’d picked some Carignan grapes from vines which had re-grown after a friend had uprooted her vineyard. They weren’t very good for eating – the flesh had a nice flavour but they had too many pips and a strong flavour to the skins, so I thought I’d try making grape jelly. I put 500 gm of grapes in a pan, crushed them lightly with a wooden spoon and added a couple of tablespoonfuls of sugar to them. I brought them to the boil and cooked them for about 10 minutes then put them through a mouli legumes so that I was left with the juice. I returned the juice to the pan, added 250 gm of preserving sugar and simmered for 5 minutes. The jelly is now in small jars, but it has set very hard so I think I’ll try again with ordinary sugar rather than preserving sugar. There seems to be plenty of pectin in the pips and skins to set the jelly.

Mussels again….

We bought mussels this morning from the usual Bouzigues van which calls in the village, and cooked them for lunch with sweet onion, rosemary, chopped piment d’Espelette, garlic and chorizo. They weren’t quite as tasty as when we cook them like this on the barbecue, but they still seemed to have a smoky flavour.

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IMGP0753 I ground the remaining dried piments d’Espelette from last year, to store in a jar. The colour was wonderful, and the flavour will be too. These were bought in the village of Espelette. This year we have our own, grown from seed from these.

8 thoughts on “>Different ways of picking grapes

  1. >@sleepyduck: I don't really understand how the machines work, although I have looked inside one. I think the rubberised 'arms' brush the vines just strongly enough to make the grapes fall off into a container at the back.

  2. >It's years since I had grape jelly….when I first moved here one of my neighbours down the street had an ancient wreck of a victorian greenhouse that was virtually held together by a grape vine, the grapes never came to much and were too bitter to just 'eat' but they made great jelly!

  3. >Your love of growing food fits perfectly with your love of eating good food. I'm just learning to enjoy cooking what I grow and what I can buy in local farmers markets. I should find a source of fresh grapes and try the jelly. My experiments with jam usually end up with a lovely sauce that doesn't quite set. This gives me an excuse to make ice cream flavored with the unset fruit jam. Yum.

  4. >We've only seen one picking machine, so they're obviously not very common around here. They can't do the grapes much good! I made a couple of jars of grape marmalade last year from the few bunches we get growing up our terrace roof, but this year I've completely run out of jars! As for chilli powder, last years will last for ever.

  5. >Mechanical fruit pickers always amaze me, it's a mystery how they pluck the fruit without totally mashing it. The premium wine grape growers here prefer to harvest the grapes at night, they get out there with big lights but no machines. But plenty of growers use mechanical pickers also, I don't know if they prefer night time picking though. I'm really happy I don't live next to a vineyard. I'll get to try some of my first ground home grown Espelette pepper soon. Thanks! I've had to dry my peppers in the dehydrator, it's still been too cool to dry them in the sun.

  6. Pingback: Vendange | olivesandartichokes

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