It has been a few weeks since my last blog. My apologies and my excuses: this isn’t my day job (which is taking its toll day AND night right now). Then, last weekend, 3 of the 4 members of my family helped our friends with the Norton grape harvest, in St. Genevieve, MO. Where, you say? MO? Harvest grapes?? Yes, actually.
St. Genevieve is a lovely community of grape growers in a region of MO that sits ~75 min south of St. Louis off of I-55 not far from the Mississippi river, which gives the region a different climate than the rest of the state. When it is hot in St. Louis, it will be most enjoyable temperatures in St. Gen. It is cooler and breezier there, with gorgeous rolling hills and farms. So when our friends from St. Louis purchased a piece of property from wonderful people who have become friends in the meantime, we have been with them nearly every step of the way, from planting the vines, to tying, to pruning, and now, to harvesting each fall.
The vineyard is called Monarch Hill Vineyard, and our friends the Jacksons grow three grape varietals that do well in MO, Norton grapes, Chambourcin, and Chardenal. Right now, although they are making some wine and bottling for personal consumption, most of the grapes are sold to area wine makers.
The Jacksons are fortunate to have many friends and family come to help with these events. Between the picking in all sorts of weather (hot, hurricanes, and cold/wind), and those willing to cook multiple meals a day for all of the pickers and “luggers”, all three of the vineyards are picked, one per day in the fall each year.
At the end of a hard day’s work, there are tables full of BBQ (thanks to the masters, Denny and Dale) and a wine barrel full of corked wine.
The grapes will be delivered in the morning to the buyer, ready to be juiced and made into wine for the region’s sales in a couple of years. But for now, while the fire pit roars as the kids throw on yet another log, the sun starts to set over the fields, the wind dies down, and night falls as the tired harvesters sip from their glasses. A toast to the grape growers of St. Genevieve County, in southeastern MO.