Unfortunately, we had a pretty low grape production this year compared to last, partially thanks to the weather (and after speaking with a few local winemakers, it seems to be everyone’s problem in the valley) and mostly due to the fact that we left them unattended last year. Regardless, we collected enough to produce a few bottles of wine. Which is better than none and probably more than enough for our first attempt at winemaking.
With the grapes gone, there was no reason to leave the vines as they were to drop soggy leaves on us all winter and in order to get a more bountiful harvest next year, we needed to maintain them anyway. We were too busy to even pick the grapes last year and they made such a mess! I remember sitting in an exam room waiting for the doctor last November and when he came in the room he slipped on a grape that had been stuck to my shoe. I grinned but acted none the wiser. 🙂
Our sources told us to trim them back 90%, so we went with 75% just to be safe (we’d feel really bad for killing our landlord’s well-established vineyard). We can now traverse to and from the house to the garage and driveway without traipsing through a pile of squished grapes and leaves. And it is so nice not having to sweep the sidewalks and patio on a daily basis. It’s astonishing how much light reaches the covered patio now.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but by the time he pruned them back and I raked and made several trips with the wheelbarrow to the brush pile (teamwork FTW), we had put in a good day of work. To give you an idea of what we were working with, the vines were up to the second story windows, we had shoots growing up over the roof over the patio, beginning to attack the satellite dish, and completely covering the wires that run to the garage. In fact, the vines on the wires were so heavy that we had to use posts to keep them up so we could walk under them. It was no easy task but it is so nice to have it done and it looks so much better. (I’m kicking myself for not taking a before picture…)
Isn’t the fog lovely? This is winter in Germany. All day and every day.
We have all the equipment we need to make wine – some of it belongs to our landlords who left it for us to use – but we were missing an acidity testing kit and a few other “chemistry set” items so we froze the grapes until we got what we needed. We are going to start the first fermentation phase this weekend and probably try our hand at making apple wine or cider with the apples from our tree, as well. I’ll keep you posted.
On the bright side, if our homemade wine doesn’t turn out and we’re not exactly expecting it to, we have a few bottles of the wine made from the grapes our squadron picked last year. Since we picked the grapes, we can take credit for it, right? 😉
And if you’re still wondering about this post’s title “Weingut Alex & Emily“…the German word weingut refers to wine produced from grapes grown within the vineyards, either rented or owned, by the producer (that’d be us). Most of the local winemakers or vinters in the area call their wine weingut followed by their name. We’d be wrong to break such a tradition, no?