This time last year I did my first wine harvest and had such fond memories of the day that when our friends invited us again, Mr. Misadventures and I jumped at the chance. The process of picking the grapes and following the steps to get it to barrel is fascinating and gives me a greater appreciation for every sip of wine I enjoy, particularly when it is a friend's wine that I have had a hand (even if it is a small one!) in creating.
On top of that, there is nothing better than being invited into a home that is just made for entertaining. A garden that gifts amazing food, a table laid with care for the sole purpose of gathering friends, people of divergent backgrounds coming together to enjoy autumn in the Bay Area. Perfection.
A little bit chiller than last year, the work of picking the grapes warmed us up a bit. The dozen of us grabbed our buckets and made our way through the vines. Mr. Misadventures looked dapper with his hat, it reminds me of the hat my Portuguese great-grandfather would wear while working the garden.
Once our buckets are full (they get to be about 20-30 pounds each) we bring over to be weighed (the total weight of the grapes needs to be calculated so the right amount of chemicals for fermentation can be added).
We picked a total of 450 pounds of grapes, enough to make 50 bottles. All the grapes are added to a big barrel (well actually 3) in preparation for crushing them. Their color is so beautiful.
Then into the crusher. It removes the stems and crushes the grapes. The grapes are added in on the top.
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Down to the crusher.
Once all that “hard work” was complete then the real work of having fun began. A group of people headed to the petanque (or bocce, depending on what part of the world you are from) court for lively games.
Others gathered at the beautiful table for conversation and refreshment. Our hostess is so thoughtful about every touch, even adding fresh basil flowers from her garden to ward off insects.
We had started the day with a light breakfast and while we waited for dinner we were served with an apero platter. All served with wine of course.
Every aspect of the day was carefully planned, as is everything in my friend's homes, whether it is a simple arrangement of fruits and vegetables selected from her garden…
…to every part of the tomato salad that tasted as good as it looks.
The full meal included grilled, deliciously marinated steaks and vegetables, several salads and well as butternut squash risotto cakes that were to-die-for.
The meal is complete without a sweet ending and there were appreciative sounds coming from everyone as they sampled slices of olive oil cake and chocolate pudding cake (that Mr. Misadventures and I brought from Sketch in Berkeley) and apple pie galettes.
To end our evening and keep us warm there was coffee and sips of Armagnac which we brought to share.
It was a fabulous day full of laughter, stories, good food, and great wine! If you ever have the opportunity to harvest grapes, I highly recommend you try it. It is not just a matter of picking grapes but the entire experience of a gathering of friends.
How about you? Have you been to a wine crush? Do you have friends that make you feel so welcome in their home?