Wednesday, October 20, 2010

MY GRANDFATHER'S GRAPES



I've been told my grandfather had the first legal winery in southern New Jersey. He produced wine in the early 20th century from his small family vineyard until prohibition put him out of business. The vineyards were still there during my early years and I remember them well. He and my father continued to make wine every year, a tradition my father continued for the rest of his life. As a young boy I remember the 5-6 barrels of wine in our cellar where I would take an occasional drink from a mason jar lid. It bothers me that I cannot remember when the vineyard was "removed"

What follow is a dream I had several years ago:

"I am walking through the flat south Jersey fields of my childhood, heading east into the land that once was the Renzulli farm. To the south I can see the Goffredi homestead and the fields where we played so many baseball games. To the north, beyond Siciliano’s farm is the silhouette of the cannery; I could still see the trucks, overflowing with ripe tomatoes, lined up during the glorious late summer days, the air smelling heavy from the tomatoes being processed for canning.

I am explaining all of these images to whoever might be with me on this dreamy journey, as we enter the overgrown field where our vineyard once so proudly thrived. ( t was a small vineyard, perhaps 15-20 rows of grapes about 500 ft long. But to me it was a magical playground, where the large leafy plants offered many intimate hiding places, nurturing so many fantasies and dreams of a young boy playing his games. And the best part? At any time you could pick a handful of large grapes, white, blue,or red, and squeeze the skin and pop the pulpy, juicy grape directly into your mouth.) Once I am in the field, I am alone, and my only thought is to look for signs of the long gone grapes, hoping there might be one or more small shoots that have survived after all these years. I begin to dig and scrape away some of the surface soil, and to my amazement, and delight, find old, thick, gnarled roots, one of which has a small green shoot trying to extend upward. I continue digging and looking and am rewarded with several more roots with signs of tender life.

Before attempting to remove them I know I must do two things, first, get permission from the current owners to do so, and second, do some research on how to safely remove and transplant the roots.

I want to restore-resurrect the grapes of my grandfather and father. I want to see the Renzulli vineyard, producers of Father & Son Claret, thrive, one more time."

1 comment:

Villager said...

Great post, I enjoyed it very much. Having grown up in a small farm in Northern Portugal, I remember grabbing the sucullent white grapes with the wrinkled and spotted golden skin in late September. What could be better?