Dec 21, 2012

From Vine to Glass: Grape Picking on the Rhine

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but one of mine and D's lifelong dreams is to own a few acres of land where we can grow grapes and make delicious wine. No, really. Stop laughing. Stranger things have happened. We don't necessarily want to run an entire large scale winery, but we'd love to have a few rows of vines that we can make homemade wine from and share with our family and friends...and maybe a few local shops and restaurants in whatever town we end up settling in after this great Air Force adventure comes to an end. It shouldn't be any surprise that I'm a wine lover...nay, a wine needer. If I was stuck on a desert island and I could only bring one beverage, it would be wine. Or margaritas. But it's kind of hard to grow a margarita, so wine wins. That's why when back in October, D and I had the wonderful opportunity to help harvest grapes in a vineyard along the Rhine River with 20 other people from D's squadron, I all but sold my kidney to get on that picker's list. Funny thing is, I think selling my kidney would have been a lot less tedious and painful than picking grapes.

I kid you not.

Allow me to elaborate. Imagine waking up at the butt crack of dawn,
grabbing a bucket and clippers, and braving a hill full of vineyards just as the chill of autumn begins to set in. Each of us claimed a side of a row of vines and clipped bunches of plump green grapes from dawn until dusk. Dawn until dusk, people. 10 straight hours of bending over, reaching under, plucking from up high, and gathering from down low. Back breaking, knee shaking work. Never ever in my life have I been more physically exhausted than after a day of harvesting grapes (and that's saying a lot coming from a girl who's re-roofed entire homes in the hot Atlanta sun--with help, of course). I seriously don't know how these German vintners do it year after year. The method to their madness is quite fascinating, but nevertheless, utterly exhausting. A few truths became evident that day...I enjoy drinking wine much more than I like making it, and once D and I turn our wine making dream into a reality, we'll be using grape harvesting machines...or hiring people. These hands were made for holding glasses, not picking grapes, I've decided. Thankfully, though, the wine was flowing heavily throughout our picking experience, so it seemed to numb our aching bodies and helped us get the job done. I apologize in advance, Mr. Weinheim, if this years batch of Riesling Sp
ätelese is a little off. After glass 4, I'm not sure which grape bunches smelled ripe or otherwise (if a bunch smells like vinegar, it's already turned bad...but if it has no smell, even if it's covered in mold, it's good to go! There's your picking lesson for the day). While the view was spectacular, it's needless to say...I think I'll skip the grape picking next year. ;)

A few nights later (after I could finally raise my arms over my head again), D and I went back to the winery and enjoyed a 22 bottle vintner's dinner, complete with wine made by the grapes harvested from the brave pickers of 2011. And yes, you read that right...a 22 bottle wine tasting. It was basically heaven. What's even cooler? The bottles of wine that were handpicked in 2011 even have a special squadron lable! A squadron with it's own wine? I think I could live here forever. I can't wait to taste our wine at the vintner's dinner next year!

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13 comments:

  1. That looks sooooo fun! I am jealous!

    I am totally with you on opening a winery, that would be the best thing ever!

    :)

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  2. Sounds like an amazing experience! Who knew it could be so hard being a wine lover?!?

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  3. How fun! Also, that is a beautiful picture of you two! :)

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  4. what an amazing, fun time! This is something i would love to do!

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  5. OK. The tradition = awesome. The manual labor, not so much. I'm glad there were 22 bottles to reward you!

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  6. That looks like so much fun! Right up my alley. The Rhine valley area is such a great spot for it too - we spent some time down there (with some wine tasting of course :) ) when we used to live in the Netherlands. Love finding other expat blogs out there - happy to be your newest follower :)

    http://www.lapetitelulu.com/

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  7. I've taken several tours of wineries here in Indiana, but that sounds amazing!

    http://holly-higgins.blogspot.com

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  8. Still a fabulous experience to add to your list. :)

    The pictures look great. I'm visiting today from the Weekend Blog Walk.

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  9. Ahh, that sounds so truly amazing! I would love to have the experience of a day-trip picking grapes and learning (and seeing th wine process). It just sounds so incredible. Thank you for sharing your story and pictures!

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  12. ok, so I heard about this (on AFN maybe?) and thought I wanted to do it next year, but maybe not!

    We lived in Monterey, California, and also have discussed the awesomeness that would be having a few vines, but maybe not!

    I would be fine contracting out the harvest after reading this :)

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I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

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