Thursday, September 7, 2017

It's Grape Harvesting Time by Donna Duffy

Candice grapes ready to harvest, photo courtesy John Crawford

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.

Marquis grapes ready to crush, photo courtesy John Crawford

Not every year is successful for grape growers. Last summer John's  efforts paid off with a bumper crop of  over 40 pounds of Canadice grapes from 5 vines. This summer, the grape harvest was greatly diminished because of the late snow, frost and destructive May hailstorm.  These late spring freezes destroy the fragile grapes in their earliest stages of growth. Some of John’s grapevines are 11 years old, and he has harvested grapes in only six 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, photo courtesy John Crawford
Grape press, photo courtesy John Crawford

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 the most juice. The 35 pounds of grapes yielded  3.5 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.