Monday 21 October 2013

No Whines About The Vine.

Working for the last two days on the task of pruning our vine, I had time to contemplate just how lucky we are to have inherited this old grape producer. We have only a hazy idea of how old it is, guessing something between 80 to 100 years or more. Much of it is dead and non-productive, but in the few area where it still lives, a warm summer, like the one we have just enjoyed, will produce an abundant crop. 

The late spring made us wonder if it was going to be a dud grape year, because even in July the fruit was small and hard. However, the hot late summer months worked their magic and the result was a crop of about 50 lbs. of sweet and juicy Muscatel green grapes. Somehow the flavour far excels that of grapes bought in the greengrocers or supermarket. I'm not quite sure why that should be the case. Perhaps it is due to intensive cultivation methods used by commercial growers, or by picking too early and ripening in a controlled cold room environment.

Growing grapes in the United Kingdom non-professionally, is a hit and miss affair. Our vine is in an old greenhouse and if we grow other plants there which require a lot of water, the higher humidity can produce a mould on the grapes, which soon rots much of the fruit.

A cold summer like that of 2012, just does not do the trick. Last year we had no edible grapes at all. The whole crop had to be thrown away, green and sour as it was. The sour feeling continued, when I fell off a ladder and cracked two ribs whilst pruning. All pain and effort for no return.

This year was a different story and we thoroughly enjoyed the sweet fecundity of this wonderful elderly vine. 



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