7.14.2009

VENDEMMIA............TEXAS STYLE

In Italy there are over 1.1 million vineyards. Most of them small 4 - 5 acre family vineyards.
Every year at the Vendemmia - or grape harvest - family, neighbors and friends help gather the grapes at the smaller vineyards. In Texas - at least at some of the vineyards - this is the tradition as well. A time for people to gather, pick the grapes and celebrate the harvest. It is already harvest time for vineyards along the Gulf Coast. Jim and I went to help with the harvest at Haak Winery on Saturday. Texas has the second largest American Viticulture Area in the United States and is the fifth largest wine producing state. The wine industry started in Texas in the 1600s when Spanish missionaries cultivated grapes for wine for the missions. By the early 1900s, wineries were thriving. Prohibition put an end to that when most wineries in Texas were forced to close. The wine industry in Texas has made huge strides in the last 10-15 years.
Raymond and Gladys Haak own and operate Haak Winery. Their signature wine is Blanc du Bois, a varietal developed in Florida to withstand heat, humidity and is very disease resistant.

Before each harvest, the Haak vineyard is blessed................................................
Jared, the Haak's great nephew, was my picking buddy for the day. Jared's claim to fame in the Haak family is that he eats more of the grapes than he picks! Gladys has named him the official grape taster.

There were around 100 people at this harvest. Breakfast was served before the harvest and local cheeses and Haak wine were sampled after. Other Texas wineries participated as well. We sampled wines from: Llano Estacado, Flat Creek Estate, Circle S Vineyards and Enoch's Stomp.
There were quite a few kiddos helping out. This sweet child came with her grandparents.


Jim hands over the grapes he has picked to Peter (son-in-law of Raymond & Gladys) who will weigh the grapes.........................
After each tub of grapes was weighed, Peter would place them in the larger bins....................
This was a happy day for Raymond - the day that a Vintner waits for the entire year.
The bins were then taken by tractor to the winery. Raymond loaded the bins on a forklift and dumped the grapes into a stainless steel tank. The grapes were then augured up into the press.................................


A great deal of work comes down to this day. The day the grapes are harvested and the art of wine making can begin.


Cheers!
Ry

For more information on Texas Wines please visit Go Texan or Vintage Texas
Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for taking me along! Your little partner must have been so happy to be picking w/ you..I see the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes!

    I never knew Texas was the second largest viticulture area..

    I love everything about vineyards.. I toured some in Niagara-On -The -Lake and enjoyed that experience.. saw some in Italy..glorious vines!! Lade w/ fruit.. and visited des caves à vin in France..and the sights will stay with me forever~

    Looks like you had a fabulous sun,friend-filled day..
    The nice glass of wine at the end w/ the whole vignette has your name all over it..You don't need a visible copyright:)

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  2. Oh that was fun! Amazing actually.

    ...but I half expected to see Lucy and Ethel out there stomping in barefeet.

    No, huh?

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  3. Vineyards are magical and it is fun to participate in the harvest. After the wine is made - it has special meaning for you - because you helped pick the grapes for that particular vintage.

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  4. that was fun, i can't believe how early you can harvest the grapes compared to ca! my neighbor makes his own wine, he tends to his vines everyday, he adores his hobbie~

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