Author Archives: Rebecca Harger

So Many Buckets!

Photos (left and center) courtesy of Connie Miller

A few weeks before we “opened the gates” I strolled through the unpruned vines. I saw so much nice fruit and sincerely hoped someone would come get the Sabbath harvest, free for the picking. My fears were quickly dispelled when shortly after 9 a.m. on opening day, September 8th, a caravan of cars arrived. People carried grapes out in buckets, baskets, bags – by the wagon load! A delightfully heavy crowd would persist for 5 days until most of the fruit was gone…and then I sadly pulled the Marketplace ad. Yet our website had promoted the event running through the 19th so we continued to welcome vineyard visitors and they continued to come through the following weekend. Generally buckets were less full, some finding only handfuls. But determined pickers amazed us by filling 5 gallon buckets right up to the end!

One bucket, two buckets,
Red buckets, blue
Old buckets, new buckets,

Many buckets…few

Photo courtesy of Bayette George

For many visitors, this was their first experience picking grapes. Several families were repeats from the 2014 Sabbath! Some came alone and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Some came as mother/daughter teams. One group signed in with 13 members! Bayette George, an accomplished photographer and filmmaker, shared photos he took of his family’s adventure. When I first saw the photo above, I was concerned about the large pair of clippers being used. Then I realized how serious and focused these two were, carefully wearing their gloves and I fell in love with the intense look on their faces. Their father had captured the precious moment I hope all our visitors experience – a connection with the land and its Creator.

As people depart, the patio’s overflowing clematis provides a nice backdrop for a farewell photo. These images (and a few more on Facebook) represent only a fraction of the crowd. I feel truly blessed to have chatted with as many as possible. Some left behind various gifts of their own which we will savor and treasure. I am already looking forward to Sabbath 2028 when we can do it all again!

“Opening the Gates” 2021

“Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and [collect] in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither [enclose] the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.” – LEVITICUS 25:3-5

Our vineyard…
does not actually have a gate, but the concept of “opening the gates” means that the community is welcome to come in and get grapes, free for the picking. Our first Sabbath year was 7 years ago in 2014. At that time, we had 6 previous years of commercial harvesting so we decided to follow the Old Testament principle of allowing the land to rest on the 7th year. An additional detail forbids enclosing the vineyard which would normally keep out trespassers or animals while grapes were ripe and desirable. So the full objective of the Sabbath is to let the land rest (the owners, workers and animals too) but also to provide the community with an opportunity for free food. In 2014 we announced our plans on Craig’s List and, wow – we had an overwhelming response! (Check out the Vineyard Journal, archive link 2014)

Here we are 7 years later and able to do it again. The Lord’s promise to create an abundance in 6 years proves true that we can happily forego this year as a commercial harvest. Please come join us during this time of community as we “open the gates” again.

Summer Market Salad

This salad comes “in season” the end of July when you can get both fresh corn and blueberries at the farmer’s market! Then pick your spring blossoms before they finally surrender to the summer heat and add them for a special touch. Save any white wine past its prime for the salad dressing.
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3 heads romaine lettuce
2 ears of corn
1 cucumber sliced, quartered
1 c. blueberries
1/2 c. pecan halves
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
edible flowers
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Cook ears of corn, let cool and cut from cob. Wash and chop lettuce. Add all other ingredients finally garnishing with edible flowers such as violas or pansies.
Serves 3-4.

White Wine Poppyseed Dressing:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white wine
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Lentil Soup

Enjoy this nutritious bowl of comfort when the weather is chilly.

This soup’s spicy warmth pairs with our Apple Spice wine.

1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tbsp. of vegetable oil
(seasoning mix:)
* 5 tsp. onion power
* 2 tsp. coriander
* 1-1/2 tsp. salt
* 1 tsp. minced dried garlic
* 1 tsp. dried cilantro or parsley
* 1/2 tsp. allspice
* 1/4 tsp. black pepper
10 c. hot water
8 oz. dried lentil beans (1/2 bag)
2 tbsp. orzo pasta (optional)
fresh spinach, stems removed


On low heat, add onions and celery to a soup pot and sweat out the moisture. Add 1 tbsp. of oil and cook slowly until onions become clear. Stir in seasoning mix. Add water and bring to a boil. Prepare lentils by rinsing in a colander being careful to remove any foreign material. Add lentils to boiling pot and cook on medium heat until beans are tender. Skim off any brown foam. Add orzo pasta and a handful of fresh spinach. Soup is ready to eat when the pasta is tender.

Pick a Pumpkin, Pick a Color

…then pick a glass of wine to sip while painting!

Ceramic painting takes both planning and faith since the raw glaze is often quite a different color than the finished product. We are so thankful for the beautiful fall evening we had for hosting the Kiln Creations event. It was a pleasure to see some old friends and meet some new ones. We look forward to a similar event in the spring.

The Vineyard Journal

Grapevines hold many lessons for life…
and I am overwhelmed daily by the beauty of creation and the wisdom of its rhythms. The Vineyard Journal contains my occasional jottings regarding the growth and care of our humble two-acre vineyard. My comments also venture toward other crops, flowers and fauna, recipes, new wine releases, events, off-site wine experiences, along with a few philosophical side trips Although the names of family and friends are downplayed for their privacy, we treasure every soul who is a part of the vineyard. Come…watch us grow.

Say Yes to the Mess

Trying out some new gadgets for cleaning up

Harvest days are fun and rewarding. But at some point, everything that went into the fermentation tank must come out and those days are long and messy. White grapes are pressed off their skins at harvest and dealt with promptly. The red grapes, however, are fermented on their skins to extract a desired amount of color and tannin. This year we pumped the young Concord wine from the high valve shown. Seeds have settled below the valve. The skins, having risen to the top, gradually ride down as the wine level drops during pumping. When the manway is opened, a deep layer of skins is revealed now resting on top of the seed layer. In the photo above, I am trying out some new gadgets. A sanitary plastic shovel cuts into the cake of skins and is a good tool for starting but I found myself reaching for the flat rake to finish. A bag of sleeve protectors were a gift from my brother-in-law, Paul, which were comfortable and could easily be changed throughout the day. And yes, those are puppy pads on the floor. We use them to absorb big spills.

Fried Sweet Corn

Stir up this late-summer feast with treasures from the farmer’s market.
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3 ears of fresh corn
1 green pepper
1 yellow squash
1 can of red kidney beans
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
fresh cilantro
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Carve corn off the cob. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat and add corn, stirring occasionally. Slice green peppers lengthwise. Slice squash into 1/8″ slices and halve. Add vegetables and beans to corn mixture. Add seasoning, stir and cover until squash is tender. The red pepper flakes add a spicy heat and can be omitted or substituted for a smaller amount of ground cayenne pepper. Add fresh cilantro to taste. Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish.

A “Sip and Paint” Class

Photo by Kiln Creations, Noblesville, Indiana

September 30th 2020, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Join us here on a pleasant autumn evening for a fun, outdoor and socially-distanced event. As part of their “Sip and Paint” series, we welcome Kiln Creations as they present a class titled “Sip and Pumpkin.”
The $40 class fee includes:

  • One medium ceramic pumpkin
  • One small ceramic pumpkin
  • All of the paint and instructions to make these beautiful masterpieces
  • Your first glass of wine or a Pick 4 Sampler

We will paint together, then your pumpkins will be taken to the ceramic shop for a short dip in a hot kiln. You will be notified when they are ready for pick up at Kiln Creations, 60 N 9th St in downtown Noblesville. For tickets follow the link below and clip on the “Sip and Pumpkin” event.

https://www.kilncreations.net/book-now

There are no refunds for this event. Should you need to cancel, Kiln Creations will send you a gift certificate to redeem in their store.

Picking a Picking Day

Clipped clusters await testing for sugar development and acidity.

The grape harvest involves a lot of hard work by many people, but I have often felt the most difficult task of the harvest for me is picking the day. There are so many elements to consider. The grapes need to be ripe enough but not endangered by birds or too much rain. Then the weather needs to cooperate providing a window of dry and preferably “not sweltering” conditions. But most importantly, we need to assemble a crew of folks available to help.

Once the sugar and acid tests begin, we can better anticipate ripeness and the effects of weather patterns. For many excruciating days, I imagine a thousand scenarios but I eventually I am forced to action. Starting with crush pad workers, I send out “feeler” messages asking the potential crew members about their availability between this and that date. As the responses trickle back, a consensus forms and with a final nod from the weather man, the final answer emerges. Picking day is announced!

Unfortunately, there are always some who are available some days but ultimately not the day chosen…and I hate that! It’s the hardest part of the process to not be able in include everyone who is willing to help. I always hope the next variety will work out for them or maybe even next year. I would love to have you join the crew and experience picking day for yourself. Please send me an email if you’re interested!