Enrique guided Raul and I through the job of pruning back in January 2021. With fifty years of experience working for well-known vintners, he worked quickly, slowing down only to explain what he was doing. We followed his instructions. The cutting away of poorly trained cordons seemed brutal, tying down new shoots a lesson in hope for the future. The vines looked naked when we were finished, and there was a truckload of debris to haul away.
California has been in a drought for several years. Our vineyard is “dry grow.” The only water it gets is what God provides. Dry-grow grapes are much smaller, but far richer in flavor. I was told that dry-grow vineyards have the best quality grapes – grapes that make the fine wines sought by connoisseurs. Shortly after pruning, we added a scoop of nutrients to each vine and waited. Last year, we had a good harvest of 750 pounds of (Pinot noir) grapes.
Spring brought new shoots popping up all over, feathering out, rising in green glory. The growth was amazing. Then came the work; removing suckers and laterals that would sap the vine. I kept watch daily, thinning shoots, making sure plenty of air could circulate, and light penetrate the vines. Tiny grapes appeared in miniature clusters. Each week brought more growth and the grapes getting bigger. Miss a day or two and branches shot across rows to hold hands. Ah-ah. I wanted our vineyard to stay behaved in neat (weedless) rows.
The grapes gradually changed color to pale and then deep purple. Then it was all about checking the sugar content every few days and reporting my findings to Raul and Enrique. Then the day came! Time to harvest.
This year we harvested 1200 pounds! And we even left some clusters for the birds. (Ranger, our German Shepherd, and I now have a break from chasing turkeys away.) Harvest is hard, hot, heavy work filled with excitement and thanksgiving. Now that it’s over, I look forward to the videos of the wine-making process Raul and Enrique are undertaking.
Now I walk through the vineyard and think of Jesus’ first miracle. He made the finest wine for a wedding feast, saving the reputation of a family who had run out during the celebration. It seems the perfect beginning to His miraculous ministry — pointing ahead to beyond the cross, beyond the resurrection to the harvest of believers who will celebrate the wedding feast with our beloved Savior in heaven. Praise God! What a day of thanksgiving that will be!