Tuesday, December 6, 2011


(photos of grapes by my esteemed son in law Robert Miller)

It wasn’t a vast vineyard, but to a very young boy it seemed endless. I suspect the gapes took up about an acre of land, perhaps a bit more. It is possible it was larger before prohibition ended the commercial wine making…long before I came on the scene. There are many things I remember fondly from my early childhood, the persimmon and pear trees, my pony, the family cow… but more than anything else, I miss the grapes. I loved to walk between the rows in the late summer when the grapes were ready for picking. The broad leaves reached above my head keeping out the sun while creating the perfect summer hide away for a little boy. But the real treasure was the delectable fruit, just hanging there waiting for me. My favorite grapes were in the first 3 rows, large yellow and light red grapes (Niagara?) that I could squeeze and pop the pulp out of the skin into my mouth. OMG they were good! The rest of the vineyard was given to the deep blue concord variety, also quite tasty right off the vine, but smaller and less juicy.

(Grandma Rondinelli visiting from Philly)

(The vineyard was located in the fields behind the barn which later became grazing land for the sheep.)

I have the faintest memory of harvesting the grapes…I was probably 5-6 years old and I remember a a lot of people walking through the rows with baskets filled with grapes. To pick the grapes my father put a funny ring on his middle finger; it had a curved blade on the top that was used to cut the stem with a simple swift flick of the wrist. The grapes were carried to the yard between our house and one of the barns where the press had been set up. Much to my dismay I cannot remember the actual pressing and the steps that obviously followed. I can say with authority that I never saw anyone stomping on the grapes. Another distressing gap in my memory is when the vineyard was removed, but maybe that’s good.

Ostensibly I am writing this to leave a record for my daughters, but the truth is, I relish the opportunity to replay these memories, always hoping that in the process I can dredge up one or two more that have been tucked away in the recesses on my mind. I remember talking to one of my uncles very late in his life, and how he seemed to confuse me with someone from his younger days and would talk endlessly about his distant past. If I live to be that old and my mind reverts back to those long ago days, I think I would be very happy.

Next....The Wine

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