Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's Grape Harvesting Time by Donna Duffy

John Crawford's Candice grapes ready to harvest

Grape growers anticipate this time of year all season long. If Mother Nature has been cooperative, it’s finally time to take off the nets and harvest grapes. John Crawford, my neighbor in NE Lakewood, has been growing grapes and making wine for over three decades. This summer his efforts paid off with a bumper crop of Canadice and Marquis grapes. The Canadice grapes were harvested today; the Marquis grapes still need 7-10 days to fully ripen.

40+ pounds of Canadice grapes, from 5 grapevines

But not every year is so successful for grape growers. This is the first time in three years that John has had the pleasure of harvesting grapes. Late spring freezes in 2014 and 2015 destroyed the fragile grapes in their earliest stages of growth. Some of John’s grapevines are 10 years old, and he has harvested grapes in five of those years. That’s about what you’d expect in Colorado, given the fact that grapevines don’t generally produce grapes until the third year, and spring freezes are common.

Crushing and de-steming
Grape press

After harvesting, John took his grapes to Do Your Brew in Westminster for crushing. There, he and the owner crushed and de-stemmed the grapes and then pressed them in a hydraulic press to get to most juice. The 40+ pounds of grapes yielded almost six gallons of juice. The resultant Crawford Castle wine is scheduled for bottling in time for holiday gift giving.

If you are thinking about growing grapes, check out CSU Extension's publications: Growing Grapes in Colorado Gardens and Colorado Grape Growers' Guide.