Vintage 2016 Harvest

Vintage 2016 Harvest

This morning we picked grapes for the Vintage 2016 harvest at Flat Creek Estate winery. There were about 21 volunteers who picked about 8 tons of Syrah and Sangiovese grapes from 30 rows. We arrived while it was still dark at 6 am so that  we would be ready to start picking at sunrise when it started to be light enough to see the grapes.

We were provided harvesting instructions by the owners and wine maker, along with coffee and granola bars. About half-way through the picking the chef brought out breakfast tacos and watermelon for everybody during out break, along with the water and Gatorade that was available under a tent. Here are my photos.

These are Sangiovese vines where we picked in Helen’s block (named after an owner’s mother). We started further to the left with Syrah.

This is a photo down one of the rows after most of these had been picked, although you can still see some on the right.

This is what it looked like with some of the volunteers that were working these rows. We have a picking buddy to work in pairs on both sides of the vines so that we make sure everything is picked. A small Kubota pickup drives up and down collecting filled buckets in 1/2 ton containers. It was amazing how many grapes we harvested in only four hours.

The Sangiovese grapes tend to be fairly large and hang in heavy clusters making it easier to snip them from the stems. Other grapes like Pinot Grigio, which we have picked before, are very small in tight clusters that grow very close the vine. Of course, you need to be careful that you don’t cut yourself with the clippers, and it’s a good idea to wear gloves.

Here’s a closer shot that shows some of the grapes hanging from the vine ready to be picked. There is netting covering the vines to protect the grapes from birds which has to be raised to allow picking.

Here you can see the grapes a little closer and notice how the stems are fairly easy to snip with one hand so you can simply catch a whole cluster when it drops into your other hand.

This is another shot that shows the grapes with some sunlight behind them so their color is more visible.

And this is a closeup of a grape cluster.

After we finished our picking we were treated to a mimosa in the Tasting Room (before it opened for the day) made from their Sparking Raspberry Wine mixed with Orange Juice.

All the volunteers will be able to attend a free Harvest Dinner (with wine, of course) prepared by the chef later in August in the Bistro, where they have many events.

We have been doing this for many years now and it’s always a fun experience. It’s great to help out and later enjoy the grapes we picked when the wine is finished, bottled, and available.

Becker Vineyards – Feb

Becker Vineyards – Feb

This is my third post for the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge.

Thanks to Terri at Perspectives On… for nominating me for this challenge. I had been planning to try some photo challenge blogging events recently, but hadn’t quite to started yet so this little nudge helps. Julia at Julia’s Odyssey accepted my challenge in my Day One post on Lake Texas Water Levels. Yesterday, Elizabeth at Tea and Paper also responded to my Day Two challenge from my post on SXSW @ The Dogwood.

In February, we picked up our wine club package from Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas. We get 3 bottles quarterly in February, May, September, and December. This time it contained a Zinfindel, “Inverno” (Merlot/Cabernet), and Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

We also enjoyed a free wine tasting with Chenin Blanc, Prairie Rotie, Malbec Reserve, Tempranillo Reserve, Raven, and Zinfandel, as well as a complimentary Merlot Reserve. These pickup parties include live music as well as snacks such as crackers, cheeses, meatball in marinara, green olives, black olive bread chunks, nuts, etc.

There was also handmade chocolate truffles and barks from Delysia Chocolatier in Austin, as well as nuts from Al’s Gourmet Nuts in San Antonio. I had a free sample of the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle, and there were lots more available to purchase.

Out trip down to the Fredericksburg area is always pleasant. It’s so nice to take drives out in the hill country, and we usually enjoy getting German food at one of the many restaurants in Fredericksburg too.

It’s interesting that in February there are skunks splattered all of the highways which have been hit by cars (and you can smell them too). Apparently, it’s their mating season and coming out at night on 70 mph roads ends their search for a mate rather quickly. Also, you often see the large turkey vultures scavenging for the dead animals like skunks (or deer).

I captured several photos during out visit. There is building with all the windows on the side which houses the barrel room where they sometimes also have had tastings. However this year they have it in the main tasting room of the main building, where I have some inside shots (but didn’t get the outside). They have a lavender farm behind the winery where they have a Lavender Festival every year in May. You can see lots of lavender products displays on the wall near the tasting bar.

Out in front of the veranda and patio there is a cute old small house that once was used for guests to stay (but not any longer). There is interesting tall windmill right near there too. There are also photos of the package, bottles, and wine club newsletter descriptions below., including a windmill, House, Tasting Room, and Goodies.

It was a fun day, and I their wine is very good. I also hope you liked the photos.

The Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge rules require you to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or simply a short paragraph – it’s entirely up to you.

Then each day, nominate another blogger to carry on this challenge. Accepting the challenge is entirely up to the person nominated, it is not a command. And actually everyone can join in. So feel free to if you like the idea.

I would like to invite Kay at Sky Blue Daze to join the party. She was another participant in Photography 101 during November 2014. I’ve enjoyed following her blog, and I thought she might be a good candidate to join this challenge. As mentioned before, it is totally up to you to accept this challenge.