Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grape Harvest in Montana

Believe it or not, grapes grow in my backyard in Montana.  In early spring the vines come back to life and slowly crawl over the pergola arbor my husband made, by the middle of August.

The grapes form into clusters of bunches and start as miniature versions of what they will become four to five months later to large fistful size by September.  For most of their growing progression, the grapes are green and sour to taste, but by harvest time they rapidly turn color to navy blue and are sweet as only grape juice can be.

As we watch the bunches grow larger and bluer at the end of the warm season in this northern and high altitude climate, we await the picking...and hope and pray that the foxy scent of ripening fruit isn't wafted too far to be smelled by the dreaded raccoon raiders.

A counter full of blue grapes makes the heart skip a beat.  
Oh Joy!

Since these grapes have big pits, sometimes two or three per small berry, they are meant really for juicing and not munching.  My first attempt a few years ago to release the dark elixer was almost amusing.  Surely my fine juicer machine would work.  Not!  Can you imagine how often it was needed to clean the filter?

Little did I know that my neighbor's parents had a wonderful old-fashioned low-tech machine called a juicer steamer.  Pure magic!

Fill the interior basket full, stems and all, with fruit of any kind, steam like a percolator, empty juice through spigot into glass groliers (beer jugs, pronounced growlers) and use however you see fit.

Often I've made jelly from the juice and passed jars out for gifts.  This year it's all for the drinking.  Next year I may try wine.  Either way the antioxidants are abundant and the local nature of a backyard vineyard is priceless.  
Who knew that two vines in chilly Montana could produce 70-100 pounds of fruit?  Now you do.


  1. This is fascinating. I never would have thought of this.
    But, truth be told, those of us just across the 49th parallel from you are getting a bit bolder. I think we have one or two wineries now, the "benefits" of climate change.
    Oh, how did I find you? I came over from the blog of amanda, goddess of ithaka.

  2. Rob-bear ~
    I have been reading your posts for a long time. You are a loyal follower of my lovely sister Amanda, the goddess of Ithaka.
    Can I surmise that you are Canadian? At least you must live in the Boreal forest regions (which are endangered).
    Grapes are very hardy - just not necessarily the kind you use for good wine. But hey - I'm no wine snob. But a tree hugger - yes!
    Thanks for commenting and consider becoming a follower of my blog Miracle Sisters. Bear Spirit is always welcome.

  3. i was about to comment on this great mash of purple and came upon this exchange between you and my favorite bear!! so glad rob has found my montana sister - and i hope you enjoy following his blogs as much as i do!

    p.s. back to the purple - i can't get over that amazing image of grapes crawling all over your counter! are they trying to escape the sunflowers? ;-)

    great post sistah

  4. heheheheh-chortle chortle...the grapes do look like escaping victims of sunflower invaders.
    can't seem to get that out of my mind now...tres amusant.

    my siblings are so much more amusing than I am. can humor be learned?