Virginia wine is a pretty big perk to living here. The Appalachian foothills provide optimal temperatures and soil chemistry (also known as magic) to elevate the mere grape into something worth writing a book about.
The arrival of autumn closes the growing season. Apple orchards, walnut trees, strawberry fields, pumpkin patches and vineyards fill the landscape with harvesting opportunities, or at least an opportunity to buy fresh fruit. A fresh jug of cider is a meaningful reward for a few hours of labor!
Autumn also welcomes the Holiday season. In a few short months the apples in your basket will be spiced and warming cold hands. Pumpkins will be carved into playful expressions or baked into pies. Pecans will be toasted and luring us in from the snow. It’s a magical time!
Harvesting grapes can be a tricky endeavor, as some of the vines may have grapes ripening at different times. This timing is rooted back in the early spring, when the buds are most sensitive to temperature and moisture. In years where the spring weather is fairly even the grapes all mature evenly, making for an easy harvest. In the years where the spring weather jumps from hot to cold, wet to dry, some of the more finicky grape varieties exhibit an uneven ripening of the vines.
Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite grapes, and also happens to be fairly sensitive to spring weather. A few years ago my brother Stephen called me over to his vineyard to see the Cabernet Franc: “They are changing colors!” he said excitedly. Pausing for a moment, I wondered if he had sampled a few too many wines himself. Perhaps noticing my suspicions he explained Veraison to clarify the situation (Red grapes start green, then change to red during the summer).
Stephen and I walked the vineyard and admired the vines. The spring happened to be a varied one, so the grapes were a spectrum of red, green and violet. He explained that harvesting these grapes would be torture, but that he would sleep better knowing that I could get a few nice photographs first. Nice guy, right?
The following morning I enjoyed a sparkling sunrise in the vineyard. The colors I had seen the previous day were magnified in the warm glow of the morning sun. “Rainbow Grapes” was taken facing the sun, with sunlight shining through the grapes. The translucent skins allowed the juice inside to glow like a stained glass window (or water balloons). These grapes still bring a smile to my face when I look at those bold colors!
Do you like what you see? Great! Share this with your friends and stay tuned next week for another photograph & story. In the meantime, please visit my website to buy Rainbow Grapes at a 25% discount!! No coupon code is required – discount is applied automatically until October 7th!