Harvest the grape

Me in the vineyard

Yesterday, my friend Annie from Montreal and I spent the most amazing day picking grapes as part of a community harvest at Scheuermann Vineyard in Westport.

The owners Allison and Francois couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. As the first rays of the sun crested the hills over the rows of their picturesque vineyard, carload after carload arrived to help with the harvest.

Overlooking the vineyard

We first rolled up black netting that had been protecting the vines from birds, clipping it to the metal wires so snow wouldn’t build up in the months ahead. Then it was time to start the harvest.

The French have a word for harvesting grapes: la vendage. It has such a wonderful sound to it, and rolls off the tongue as sweetly as the delicious juice of the grapes we snipped from vines.

Dog in vineyard

 

We picked Vidal, a beautiful, light green grape. When picking grapes, you work in pairs facing each other through the vines. The buddy system ensures that no grapes are missed and left on the vine. The term picking grapes isn’t quite accurate either. You snip the stems from the vines.

Harvesting grapes can be back breaking work so each person sits on a stool. You “pick” with your partner, placing the large bunches of grapes in bins, working down the rows from post to post.

Woman with stool
The owners Mom, Francine won the prize for most innovative stool–tied to her bum!

The fruit was magnificent, large green bunches hanging off the vines—Francois later told us it was one of their best years yet.

bin of grapes

The day was spectacular. We took a short break to drink coffee from mason jars and have some homemade cookies, then it was back to the vines. By early afternoon, as our mouths were starting to get parched, they delivered cold beer and homemade pizza to us in the fields.

Pickers leaving the field
Francois’ son photo bombed this picture of us leaving the fields at end of the day

We worked hard, but it was so worth it. By 4:15 all the Vidal had been picked. It was time to celebrate.

We ran into our friends Tim and Susie and had a great day and dinner with them

Our gracious hosts uncorked Vidal and Cabernet Franc, which we sipped in big Adirondack chairs overlooking Wolfe Lake. Then dinner was served, a delicious harvest meal of garlic potatoes, cauliflower, roasted carrots and beef, topped off with the piece de resistance, homemade apple pie and pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce that bubbled on the pot in front of the open fire.

Destemming machine
Scraping all the stems away from the destemming machine

We dined al fresco as Francois and his hard working crew poured container after container of grapes into the destemmer (which removes the stems), then into the press to extract the juice.

Bins of grapes being emptied into pressers
Emptying the grapes into the presser

We picked 10 tons of grapes, about enough to make 10,000 bottles of wine. I was in heaven.

Bottle of wine

This week’s #HappyAct is to join a community harvest. Vive la vendage. And special thanks to my camera shy amie Annie for making the trip and being my picking partner for the day. Same time next year–a la prochaine!

Lucky Charms–because they’re magically delicious

Box of Lucky CharmsEd. note: For your reading pleasure, read this week’s post with an Irish accent.

Ah, St. Paddy’s Day. The day when green beer and green blood flows through our veins like the River Liffey.

This year, we’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the wee town of Westport, Ontario. Dave will be piping in the parade, then we’ll be off to hear Turpin’s Tail at the Cove. It should be a fine night, to be sure.

While there are many wonderful things about the day of green, one of the most brilliant is eating a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. What is so special about me Lucky Charms?

Well, for starters, they ARE magically delicious (the best marketing slogan of all time, along with “You’re always after me lucky charms!”)

Second, where else can you eat a rainbow that is a marshmallow? What a crack way to start your day.

And third, each charm has magic powers.

I also like how the colour of the milk turns green at the end of the bowl.

This week’s #HappyAct is to take this quick quiz on all things Irish, including our favourite breakfast cereal and have a marvellous St. Paddy’s Day.

  1. Which province in Canada recognizes St. Paddy’s Day as an official holiday?
  2. Name four of the shapes in a box of Lucky Charms.
  3. Which Canadian city flag has a shamrock on it?
  4. What is the name of the mascot in Lucky Charms?
  5. Beoir is the Irish Gaelic word for what?
  6. In what year did General Mills start making Lucky Charms?
  7. True of False: St. Paddy’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival?
  8. How many calories in bowl of Lucky Charms (3/4 cup)?
  9. True or False: Lucky Charms was the first cereal to include marshmallows in the recipe.
  10. Each marshmallow charm represents a different power. What power does the blue moon represent?
  11. BONUS question: There is also a Westport in Ireland too. Which county is it in?

May the luck of the Irish be with you this day and all days forward. (Quiz answers appear below).

green milk in bowl of lucky charms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiz answers:

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Any four of hearts, stars, rainbows, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, hourglass, red balloons
  3. The Montreal city flag includes a shamrock in its lower right-hand corner
  4. Lucky the Leprechaun
  5. Beer
  6. 1962
  7. True
  8. 110
  9. True
  10. The power of invisibility
  11. BONUS ANSWER: County Mayo

Toast your buns

Mother and daughter in car
Grace and I fighting over the heated car seats

Minus 27 degrees Celcius. The deep freeze is finally here. The consensus on Facebook yesterday seemed to be the best way to beat the cold was to stay inside.

Not us. We spent three hours down at the lake yesterday, clearing off the rink, skating, skiing and even having a hot dog cookout. After warming up inside, we headed out again, this time in the car to Westport for a church spaghetti supper.

I don’t consider myself high maintenance. I don’t own a Coach purse or Gucci wallet. I drive a 10-year old Honda and I’m just as happy with a simple pasta supper at home or at the church in Westport than getting dressed up and going out to a fancy restaurant.

But there is one luxury I have come to appreciate, especially in the dead of winter–heated car seats.

Whenever we venture out on a cold day, the girls and I race to Dave’s car and fight over the front seat. The victor hops in the passenger side and cranks the dial to 24 or 25 and waits for the warmth of the seat to make their tush tingle. It’s luxury, pure luxury on a cold winter’s day.

Clare usually wins, because she “claims” she gets car sickness in the back seat of Dave’s car. Grace and I think it’s a sinister ruse. Trust me, it’s hard to be sympathetic when the little minx blurts out “My buttocks are burning!”

Happiness isn’t a warm puppy when it’s minus 27 outside. Happiness is a heated car seat.

This week’s #HappyAct is to fight for the front seat, or find something to keep your buns toasty warm. And if one of your kids claims they feel car sick, be heartless. Race as fast as you can to claim the front seat–no butts about it.