it begins with sunrise over minneapolis.
early in the week, i decided i would go spend a saturday harvesting grapes at falconer vineyards in red wing, minnesota, after seeing their facebook post requesting volunteers. i have been wanting to visit the vineyard for a few years and had no other plans for the day. so — i would get a full day of experience. and photos.
it was a sunny morning as i drove i-94 through the twin cities, but as i got near hastings a fog began to settle in.
creepy to be driving over a fog-drenched bridge that’s being worked on and sits above the mississippi river. especially after the bridge collapse of august 2007. it takes a brave minnesotan…
when i arrived at the vineyard, it was chilly and foggy but i was excited! there were about 7 other volunteers at 8:30 a.m., fortifying themselves with pancakes, sausage and coffee.
we were tasked with picking la crescent grapes for the day. these are cold-hardy grapes produced at the university of minnesota and they are delicious!
this is cedar, the winery dog. very lovely and friendly. definitely deserves skritches.
the grapes had been frosted a couple weekends ago, which ends their ripening process. the staff of the vineyard seemed disappointed with these grapes, but i’m sure they’ll still produce a delicious vintage. because they were picked with love and care, you see.
john falconer, the owner of the vineyard, came to visit my picking partner and me as we happened upon this little birds’ nest. he said it’s typically seed-eaters that nest in the grapes.
by the end of the day at 5:30 p.m., we had twice this amount of grapes at least.
for lunch, john and his staff made us many wood-fired pizzas. though the pepperoni was especially delicious, i would like to go back to try the “grapes of wrath” pizza — red grapes on a pizza? must try!
after lunch, i brought my camera out into the field.
is this a gopher? is my alumni pride showing? (go, gophs!)
just when we thought our fingers might freeze off (around 1:30 p.m.), the sun came out! which felt so, so, so good.
steve and stacie jane provided musical entertainment in the afternoon.
after the long day of harvesting (and being one of the few who stayed from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), john recommended that i take home a bottle of merechal foch. i have never had any of the wines at falconer vineyards, so of course, i accepted. but something wasn’t quite right… i slowly walked out to my car and decided that if there were a spot out in front of the winery, i would stay for a quick tasting.
luckily, there was a spot out front! la crescent, la crescent moon, snowy white, chambourchin, frontenac port… i really wanted to write “yum!” next to each of these wines on my tasting notes.
and it ends with sunset over st. paul.
the vineyard is accepting more volunteers for another harvesting day next saturday, october 1st. if you enjoy drinking wine, you should definitely go get in touch with some grapes — and stay for a taste!