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Grape Harvest Get-Togethers

DaveFritz's picture

Hi, Everyone,
I'm not about to try and organize one just now, but this is a thought I'll throw out there for everyone to toss about. My idea is that CT Get-Togethers might be set up around the grape harvest at wineries. It's something that could be done in many areas around both countries. Wine areas usually have lots of good restaurants, too.

My wife, Mary, and I had our first experience with the grape harvest the weekend before last. We have a wine area within easy driving distance, about an hour. Advance registration was needed, but that's not true of some wineries.

We drove up in the morning to Sandbanks Estate Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario. We signed in (we were a bit late) and got secuteurs. Winery people took us down the rows and set us up in places. Armed with the snippers and large pails, we began to cut grape bunches off the vines. Everyone works at their own pace, some standing, some sitting in lawn chairs. At about 11:00 the winery crew came down the rows pouring glasses of wine. Of course, we sampled some of the grapes, too.

About noon, we gathered back at the winery for a slow food (all locally sourced) lunch of sausages in a bun, corn on the cob, potato sald, cole slaw and apple crisp, all prepared by a local caterer. Yummm. And a glass or two of wine, of course.

Then it was back to picking. About mid-afternoon, there was another short break, then a bit more picking. Then there was entertainment, live music for about an hour and a bit. Things wound down after that.

We spent the night at a lovely B&B in Bloomfield with a GREAT breakfast, went back the next day and bought some wine, then headed home. Had we been less tired, we might have had dinner at a more upscale place, and we might have gone back for another day of picking.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. We have a better idea now where our wine comes from, and had a lot of fun, too.

As I was looking at a few threads this morning, the though occurred that something like this might be a great idea for a Get-Together, so I though I'd pass it along.


Dave Fritz

Cheers, Dave Fritz

roz's picture

(post #56913, reply #1 of 19)

What a great idea! Productive labor ending in great food, friends and wine! I'm glad you and your wife had a great it could happen twice a year...northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere!

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz
Glenys's picture

(post #56913, reply #2 of 19)

This summer our friends at Vista d'Oro Farm and Vineyard in south Langley held a suckling pig roast to celebrate and feed the "workers". We quartered green-stage black walnuts to be mixed and macerated into a Port styled traditional French black walnut wine.
It's the only event I've been to that was like harvest time on the prairies.
Luckily, there's such a strong farmfolk/cityfolk movement here that it's connecting the more people to this kind of experience.

Philter's picture

(post #56913, reply #6 of 19)

We have to miss your class at E-W this week, We'll catch you at another soon I hope,cheers,Phil.


"If 'tis to be,'twil be done by me."

"If 'tis to be,'twil be done by me."

Glenys's picture

(post #56913, reply #7 of 19)

Hope you're transfering to the second one. Love to see you.

roz's picture

(post #56913, reply #3 of 19)

I have a friend who's niece lives in Istanbul. During the months of October and November, she travels to Italy to work the grape harvest and then the olive harvest. She started doing this as a WWOOFer, world wide opportunities on organic farm. She is no longer a wwoofer, but has made great friends and continues to 'help' the harvest.

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz
Maedl's picture

(post #56913, reply #4 of 19)

I've been toying around with the idea of doing this for several years now--for me it would be either Italy or Germany. Well, I suppose I could be persuaded to go to France too. But to couple it with a CT get-together is a stroke of genius! Love the idea.

Between the Alps and the Chesapeake Bay:
Where Food and Culture Intersect

Margie Between the Alps and the Chesapeake Bay: Where Food and Culture Intersect
ehBeth's picture

(post #56913, reply #5 of 19)

My goodness, that sounds fantastic. I didn't think they could make Prince Edward County any better, but it sounds like they're onto something there.

If you can't play a sport, be one.

If you can't play a sport, be one.
annieqst's picture

(post #56913, reply #8 of 19)

Fantastic idea. Lots of wineries everywhere...there's sure to be one near almost everyone. If not the actually growing vineyard, at least a tasting room.

DaveFritz's picture

(post #56913, reply #9 of 19)

Just thought I'd pass on a clipping from the Sandbanks newsletter.
HARVEST NEWS October 15th 2008
We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all those who joined us to harvest the Baco Noir, Marechal Foch and Pinot Noir grapes, in the last few weeks. In true Harvest spirit, with food, wine and entertainment, a good time was had by all. We had a total of 249 pickers and picked 17.3 tons of grapes. We could not have achieved this without your hard work and we truly thank you.
Catherine and Rene

If you would like to experience harvesting the grapes or you joined us earlier to pick grapes, and you still have some stamina left, join us in picking one last time this year.

There are those who say“there is a wonderful peacefulness when picking the grapes”.

Your hard work will be rewarded with lunch, wine tasting and your name on the next Baco Noir!

We are harvesting our last grapes of Riesling and Cabernet Franc on
Saturday, October 18th from 9 am to 5 pm
Bring if you have: gloves, pruners and lawn chair.
Please RSVP at or telephone us at: (613) 399-1839
Sandbanks Estate Winery, 17598 Loyalist Parkway, Wellington, Ontario K0K 3L0



Cheers, Dave Fritz

ICDOCEAN1's picture

(post #56913, reply #10 of 19)

I just started a chapter in A Thousand Days in Tuscany that has to do with harvesting grapes, maybe the author will get around to food for the harvest, I don't know.

Sounds like a great idea, but I am not sure that the wineries in NC do anything like that.  I know that they have wine tastings and festivals. 

I am off to Idaho this week and I would like to explore a couple wineries in Boise.  I tried one or two of their wines and thought that they were pretty good.  An Eagle liquor store carries only Idaho wines so I might have to head over for a couple of bottles.

If you one can't go picking, maybe just reports back on the your local wineries and recommendations would be fun.


FitnessNut's picture

(post #56913, reply #11 of 19)

We had a Sandbanks wine for the first time last absolutely luscious Pinot Noir. I've never seen this winery represented at our local LCBO before. You can bet I'll be trying it again. So far, I haven't had a Prince Edward County wine I didn't like. ;-)

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell
DaveFritz's picture

(post #56913, reply #12 of 19)

Hi, FitnessNut,
This is a little off-topic, but relates. The LCBO has listed Sandbanks Dunes Vidal and Baco Noir in selected stores. Here is the list:

Toronto: Queen’s Quay; Bayview (North York)
Peterborough: Lansdowne; Chemong
Cobourg: 3rd & Albert Street
Belleville: Bell Blvd & North Front Street
Picton: Hwy 33 & Lake Street
Napanee: Dundas & Adelphis
Kingston: Barrack & King; Princess Street; Midland Avenue
Ottawa: Bank Street, Rideau Street; Hunt Club Road
Brockville: Stewart Blvd

I would heartily recommend the Baco, and try the Baco Reserve if you make a trip to the winery. That's much more fun than just popping into the liquor store.



Cheers, Dave Fritz

FitnessNut's picture

(post #56913, reply #13 of 19)

Thanks for the info. I'm regularly in Kingston and Brockville (where I purchased the aforementioned bottle) and will search out more to sample. A trip to the winery may also be a possibility....who knows? Something to keep in mind. Definitely more interesting than just heading off to the LCBO, for sure.

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell
sally ryan's picture

(post #56913, reply #14 of 19)

We've been to PEC and done the winery route twice now and it's lovely.  DH and I would be up for a get together if one is arranged.  As much as we hate the trek through Toronto!

We're just back from two wks in Cuba which has severe food shortages now due to the three hurricanes.  Octopus stew and squid sticks anyone!  How about canned potatoes, carrots and peas?

Glenys's picture

(post #56913, reply #15 of 19)

This has always been my query about Cuba. I'm still fascinated by the Buena Vista Social Club imagery, and the idea of this unique culture built out of decay and mainenance at the same time, but I've always wondered what you'd eat there. Yes, mojitas can be a food group, but all the tourists that flock there on their all inclusives, what do they eat?

PeterDurand's picture

(post #56913, reply #16 of 19)

Nutrition is to be found in margaritas and other fine calorie laden drinks.


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...

sally ryan's picture

(post #56913, reply #17 of 19)

Glenys, the food is not usually so vile.  In the past you could always fill up on fresh bread and veggies.  Normally you see lots of fresh fruit as well but for some reason I always get hives from Cuban fruit. 

The hurricanes combined with low occupancy rates have taken things to a new low.  I hope you get to see Havana sometime as it's quite beautiful and utterly decrepit at the same time.  There is music in the air everywhere.

DaveFritz's picture

(post #56913, reply #18 of 19)

Hi, Glenys,
NOBODY goes to Cuba for the food. There is, however, some good food to be had at a small number of restaurants and at the more high-end resorts and hotels. Some fincas host tourists and have pretty good food, usually served family-style. Many of the lesser resorts and hotels also have good (not great) buffets. Even when the food is just OK, there is usually lots.

Of course there is also a lot of mediocre to bad food. But if you know this going in, you shouldn't be disappointed.

Cuban food does have some highlights. Ice cream is usually excellent almost anywhere. Good black bean soup can be to die for. There is always lots of fresh fruit, fresh tomatoes year round and a growing (NPI) amount of fresh vegetables. And well-made rice and (black) beans can be very nice, in a comfort-food sort of way.

The hurricanes have undoubtedly caused a lot of problems food-wise even for the tourist sector, so things may be less than optimal, especially in the fresh fruit and veggies area.



Cheers, Dave Fritz

sally ryan's picture

(post #56913, reply #19 of 19)

I agree, until the recent hurricanes food was never a problem for us as tourists.  Fresh fish, fresh vegetables , fresh bread, I could eat like that every day. I can eat all the steak etc. I want for the other 51 weeks of the year.

They are having very difficult times right now and in the hardest hit areas the police are cracking down on any black market food sales as well.  I read that the food rations of rice and beans have been increased but you need fruit and vegs to stay healthy.